The Afghanistan-born suspect taken into custody Monday in connection with weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey had prior contact with authorities, two government sources told Fox News.
The sources said there was a domestic dispute, and the complainant also voiced suspicions that Ahmad Khan Rahami may have radical learnings. The FBI followed up on the claims as part of a “Guardian lead,” which is a post-9/11 system designed to track new information and run it to ground. In Rahami’s case, Fox News was told there was not enough to pursue, and the original allegations were withdrawn.
“There's nothing to indicate currently, he was on our radar, we had a report of a domestic incident some time ago,” the FBI’s New York Assistant Director in Charge Bill Sweeney told reporters about the incident. “The allegations were recanted and I don't have any other information. We'll keep digging.”
At a press conference in Elizabeth, N.J., law enforcement officials also said the suspect was not on the radar of local law enforcement, but the restaurant his family owned had inspection issues and there was friction between the family and the community between 2002 and 2012.
Two sources said the FBI is now focused on Rahami's overseas travel, and at least three trips to his native Afghanistan. A law enforcement source said the frequency of the trips was not suspicious at the time because of his family ties, and the number of trips did not suggest Rahami had outside help to pay for the flights.
A second law enforcement source backed up the account, adding the FBI is now investigating who Rahami met with and whether they planted the seeds of radicalization. Rahami immigrated to the U.S. legally with his family when he was 7 years old.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Rahami was wanted for questioning regarding explosions in three locations -- Seaside Park, and Elizabeth, N.J., as well as New York City. The attack in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday injured 29.
Rahami was taken into custody after a shootout with police Monday morning.
Two sources tell Fox News that the suspect was identified in the surveillance video from the Chelsea blast.
Rep. Peter King, who sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, explained how the evidence apparently ties Rahami to the three locations.
“The two bombs in Chelsea, and the bombs in South Jersey appear to be constructed by the same people as far as the material is used, the way in which they're constructed; Christmas lights and all that was identical,” he said.
Rahami was born in Afghanistan in 1998 and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. His last known address is Elizabeth, N.J., where the investigation continues.
After a security conference in Washington, the secretary of Homeland Security said his team is not ruling out terrorism.
“We have to be vigilant concerning the lone-wolf actor, the self-radicalized actor that can strike with little or no notice,” Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
Separately, Fox News is told that the attacker in a weekend stabbing spree in Minnesota was “unknown” to federal officials and not on their radar prior to the attack.
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Matthew Dean contributed to this report.