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Investigators gather clues on NYC bombing suspect

Ahmad Rahami's life

NEW YORKAhmad Khan Rahami failed at his alleged desire to anonymously inflict carnage in the New York tri-state area with a series of remote-control bombings, and now investigators are poring over clues to learn more about the man and his possible motives.

Officials tell CBS News the naturalized American citizen born in Afghanistan and living in New Jersey left behind a notebook, found with a bullet hole in it, along with a handwritten note.

Both pieces of evidence contain written rants, suggesting that he was a consumer of multiple radical ideologies by several different terrorist organizations, reports CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues. According to three U.S. law enforcement officials, Rahami’s writings recovered by law enforcement contain references to Osama Bin Laden and American-born jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to U.S. law enforcement officials, in his writing Rahami referenced bombs in the streets, and gunshots to police because of oppression in the West. He writes of pipe bombs and cooker bombs in the streets as well. He also mentioned wanting to live in peace.

Investigating Rahami's "path to radicalization"

However, investigators don’t know if he was directed by a terrorist group or inspired by one. William Sweeney Jr., the FBI’s assistant director in New York, said there was no indication so far that the bombings were the work of a larger terror cell.

Federal officials had investigated Rahami recently.

In 2014, after a stabbing at the family home in New Jersey, police responded. Rahami was said to have stabbed one of his siblings. 

When local police arrived, a neighbor told them that they had heard Rahami’s father yell to his son that he was a “terrorist.”   

 Police arrested Rahami for the stabbing, and called the Joint Terrorism Task Force. FBI and State Police responded. They interviewed the neighbor. In an interview the father said he had yelled “terrorist” in a moment of anger. The FBI began an “assessment.”    

During the investigation, the father was re-interviewed. He again recanted the “terrorist” claim. Nothing was found to back up assertions that Rahami was a terrorist. The stabbing charges were never filed.      

While officials say Rahami traveled to Afghanistan multiple times, and at least once to Pakistan, it’s not clear at all what exactly he did while in those places. An Afghan official tells CBS News that during Rahami’s last trip there, in 2014, he is believed to have traveled over land from Pakistan, as there is no record of him having entered through Afghanistan’s airports.

New Jersey state Rep. Albio Sires said Rahami called his office in 2014 seeking help getting his wife a U.S. visa because her Pakistani passport was expired.

Sires said his office wrote a letter to the U.S. embassy in Pakistan to check on the status of the case and that the woman eventually received a visa. He says he doesn’t know if she ever came to the country and the FBI didn’t answer when asked on Monday.  

Sources say NY, NJ bomber was interested in terror ideologies

He said Rahami was “kind of nasty.”

Rahami wasn’t on any terror or no-fly watch lists, though he had been interviewed for immigration purposes traveling between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

Rahami and his family lived above their restaurant - called First American Fried Chicken - in Elizabeth, N.J. and the family has clashed with the city over closing times and noise complaints, which the Rahamis said in a lawsuit were tinged with anti-Muslim sentiment.

The lawsuit was terminated in 2012 because one of Rahami’s brothers had pleaded guilty to blocking police from enforcing closing hours at the restaurant.

A childhood friend, Flee Jones, said Rahami had become more religious after returning from a trip to Afghanistan several years ago. Still, some of the family restaurant’s customers said Rahami was more likely to talk about his interest in cars than to mention faith.

“He’s a very friendly guy,” patron Ryan McCann said. “That’s what’s so scary.”