President Barack Obama on Monday pledged “all federal support” that the authorities need to investigate the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey.
Obama said law enforcement and counterterrorism officials “at every level” are working “to keep us safe.” Notably, the president did not call the incidents terrorist attacks.
Twenty-nine people were injured Saturday when a bomb exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Another device that did not detonate was found a few blocks away.
Earlier in the day, a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey, before a charity race.
Obama vowed Monday to continue fighting the Islamic State, which he said motivates certain individuals to carry out attacks in the U.S. and other countries. The president spoke from New York, where he will address the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. Amid reports that the suspect had been shot by law enforcement in New Jersey, Obama urged media outlets to avoid “getting out ahead of the investigation.”
A shootout did occur Monday between police and the suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, who was shot several times before being taken into custody and charged with attempted murder, The New York Times reported. He was taken to University Hospital in Newark and is expected to recover.
Republican Rep. Peter King of New York told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer earlier Monday that “those I’ve been talking to say that they still very much want to find out whether or not there is any overseas connect, whether there’s any direction from overseas.”
The congressman said it was too early to tell if Rahami was acting alone or from within a larger terrorist cell. He also added that there were other people in surveillance video captured of Rahami before the explosions.
“This is still an open investigation,” King said.
Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas compared Saturday’s attacks to the al-Qaida “playbook manual” of simultaneous attacks in multiple locations.
“This is very consistent with what we’ve seen in the past from both al-Qaida and ISIS in terms of the Times Square bomber, the Boston bomber, as you recall, used pressure-cooker bombs,” McCaul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday. “And also, pipe bombs as the chase scene ensued when they tried to apprehend them after the fact.”
He expressed concern over a possible active terror cell in the New York tri-state area.
“What that indicates to me, as a former federal prosecutor, is that now you have a conspiracy and now you have a cell, not just a lone wolf act by himself, but rather an operational cell of terrorists who are working together to kill Americans,” McCaul said.
John T. Bennet contributed to this report.