ELIZABETH, N.J. — New York bombing suspect Ahmad Rahami surfaced on the FBI’s radar about two years ago when Rahami’s father allegedly referred to his son as a terrorist, a federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY on Tuesday.
The reference came during a domestic dispute involving the family, prompting the FBI to review Mohammad Rahami’s claims, according to the official who was not authorized to comment publicly.
The official said the matter was closed in part because Mohammad Rahami recanted his claim, and there was nothing to substantiate it.
Mohammad Rahami said Tuesday that he does not believe his son is a terrorist. As he was walking to his car near the family’s home here, he was asked if he believed his son was a terrorist.
Mohammad Rahami’s answer: “No.”
He also responded to reports that Rahami had stabbed his brother, Nasim, in the leg during an altercation in 2014, when the family lived in nearby Perth Amboy. Mohammad Rahami acknowledged the incident had occurred, adding “there was no reason.”
Mohammad Rahami, wearing a baseball cap and escorted by a detective from the Elizabeth Police Department, quickly got into his vehicle, closed the door and drove away.
On Monday, he was briefly interviewed by MSNBC. He denied knowing of any plans his son -- a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan -- may have made. He was asked for his reaction to the his son being a suspect in the bombings.
“I’m not sure what is happening, exactly,” he said. “It is very hard right now to talk.”