U.S. Authorities say that the accused Chelsea bomber’s wife is co-operating with investigators in the United Arab Emirates. ABC News reports that Asia Babi “voluntarily” went for an interview with the FBI in the United Arab Emirates on September 19 as she was en route to the U.S. her native land, Pakistan. The same report says that the accused terrorist, Ahmad Rahami’s mother, Najiba, left for Turkey on August 24.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Had Been Scheduled to Fly Back to the U.S. Later This Week
The network adds that she has been “flagged for possible terror ties.” A source told the Los Angeles Times that authorities don’t believe she was going back to the the United States in “response” to the bombings.
2. The Couple Has Been Married Since July 2011
The Wall Street Journal reports that Rahami and Bibi were married in Pakistan in July 28. The newspaper was quoting the suspect’s immigration file.
ABC News, quoting an investigation source, said that authorities are looking into Rahami’s time in the city of Quetta in Pakistan between April 2013 and March 2014. The “mysterious” town is located close to the Afghan boarder and is considered a stronghold of the Taliban. Since 2014, Rahami had been on “months long” trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan, reports the Los Angeles Times.
One of Rahami’s friends, Flee Jones, told the Boston Herald, “At one point [Rahami] left to go to Afghanistan, and two years ago he came back, popped up out of nowhere and he was real religious. And it was shocking. I’m trying to understand what’s going on. I’ve never seen him like this.”
3. U.S. Rep. Albio Sires Helped the Couple With Bibi’s Visa Application
Bibi’s Visa application for the U.S. was approved in 2012, the couple first applied for status in 2011, according to ABC News. The station says that Bibi didn’t join her husband in the U.S. until May 2014. At the time, the couple had one child. She is a U.S. Green Card holder.
U.S. Rep for New Jersey’s 8th congressional district, Albio Sires, told MSNBC, that “[Rahami] wanted his wife to come from Pakistan.” The congressman told the network that the suspect had contacted Sires in 2014. “At the time she was pregnant and in Pakistan. They told her that she could not come over until she had the baby, because she had to get a visa for the baby.”
In a separate interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sires said, “He showed up at my office. The staff thought he was a little abrupt.But there was nothing unusual about it. This district has a lot of immigrants. We do this all the time.”
Sires went on to describe Rahami as “kind of nasty.” Another stumbling block had been Bibi’s expired passport, according to Sires. Sires said that he had advised Rahami and his wife to go to the U.S. consulate in Karachi but the suspect felt it was too dangerous.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson issued a letter on September 20 to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking for more information regarding Bibi’s immigration status.
4. One of Rahami’s School Friends Says the Suspect Got His High School Girlfriend Pregnant Before Graduation
Rahami is a graduate of Edison High School, class of 2007. One of his friends, Chris Konya, told the Wall Street Journal that while Rahami was a student there, he got his girlfriend pregnant.
That woman, Maria Mena, shared custody of their child with Rahami until 2011 when she told a court she feared her child might be taken from the country, reports the Los Angeles Times. That newspaper adds that Mena filed for sole custody of the child on September 20 following Rahami’s arrest. She said she last spoke to the suspect in January 2016. While the Times reports that Rahami was behind on his child support payments.
5. Rahami’s Father Accused His Son of Being a Terrorist in 2014
The New York Times reports that Rahami’s father, Mohammad Rahami, accused his son of being a terrorist in 2014 but later recanted the statement. It stemmed from a domestic dispute in which Rahami allegedly stabbed his brother. Speaking to reporters, Rahami said, “Two years, I called the FBI — my son, he’s doing very bad, OK? But they check it almost two months. … They say, ‘He’s not a terrorist.’ I said, ‘OK.’ Now they say he is a terrorist. I say, ‘OK.'”
In 2011, the Rahami family sued the town of Elizabeth citing religious discrimination based around the scrutiny of their fried chicken restaurant. The Los Angeles Times reports that the family also took issue with a resident of the town, James McDermott, who allegedly said, “Muslims make too much trouble in this country.”