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New York City bombing suspect may have cased Chelsea before blast

Last Updated Sep 22, 2016 6:59 PM EDT

The man accused of detonating a bomb in New York on Saturday night may have cased the targeted neighborhood in advance, CBS News has learned.

Law enforcement sources said Ahmad Khan Rahami may have been casing the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan two days before the bombing.

Thirty-one people were injured when the pressure cooker bomb went off in Chelsea. Another bomb that was removed from a piece of luggage and placed on the sidewalk a few blocks away failed to detonate. Rahami was also accused of placing a pipe bomb along a charity racecourse in Seaside Park, New Jersey, that detonated earlier Saturday but injured no one.

A U.S. official familiar with the bombing investigation tells CBS News that Rahami is unconscious and intubated. He is unable to travel. As such, he is not in sufficient physical health for presentment to the Court – even at a bedside proceeding.

Investigators were talking to witnesses who said they saw Rahami in the area, but investigators were trying to determine if the witness accounts were accurate.

Also, law enforcement sources confirmed that Rahami’s wife, Asia Bibi Rahami, arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday night. She was cooperating with investigators and providing details about the Rahami family. She is not considered a suspect, CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.

Among the information learned by investigators was that Rahami and his wife were in an arranged marriage.

Newly released pages from Rahami’s journal contain an apparent reference to a high-ranking leader with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, who was killed last month.

The reference to Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was significant because of what he told his followers before his death. Rahami’s notebook suggests that he was influenced by a variety of terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and ISIS.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Wednesday that Rahami was inspired by ISIS.

“It’s clear from this journal that Mr. Rahami was receiving inspiration from the ISIS spokesman, Mr. Adnani,” Rep. Michael McCaul said.

Two years ago, al-Adnani -- ISIS’ second in command -- urged his followers to attack targets in the West. He was killed by a U.S. drone strike in August.

Other developments in the investigation include:

  • Law enforcement sources confirmed that the gun used in the shootout between Rahami and police on Monday was purchased in July in Virginia during the period he was shopping for bomb ingredients on eBay.
  • CBS News has learned that on Sunday night investigators thought they had Rahami under surveillance and were concerned that he was trying to flee in a car. The car was followed and was later stopped. The five people in the car were taken into custody near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and at first investigators thought that Rahami was among them. It turned out to be a false alarm. The people in the car were related to Rahami, but they were later released without charges. Investigators then put out a wanted poster, and he was in custody about four hours later.
  • Multiple federal law enforcement and intelligence sources said that Rahami’s friends and family were telling investigators that they noticed a transformation when he returned from Afghanistan in 2014 regarding his dress and appearance. He had become more religious and started distancing himself from friends and family.
  • A federal law enforcement source said Rahami was distressed about discrimination and financial problems.
  • Authorities were still looking for the bomb factory and have found residue in a location in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.