'Chelsea bomber' gets two life sentences

Ahmad Khan Rahimi was convicted of planting bombs in New York City's Chelsea neighbourhood in 2016.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi was convicted of planting bombs in New York City's Chelsea neighbourhood in 2016.

NEW YORK • A New Jersey man convicted of planting bombs in New York City's Chelsea neighbourhood in 2016 has received two life sentences after expressing no remorse in a Manhattan courtroom for engineering the explosion that injured 30 people.

"I don't harbour hatred towards anyone," Ahmad Khan Rahimi said on Tuesday in a courtroom packed with spectators, including some of the people who were injured when one of his bombs exploded on Sept 17, 2016.

"But through life experience, I have learnt to understand why there's such frustration between the Muslim community overseas and the American people."

Rahimi, a 30-year-old US citizen born in Afghanistan, said he had been "harassed" by the authorities while travelling because of his Muslim appearance after he started practising the religion.

He also said that his father had reported him to the Federal Bureau of Investigation several years ago because he feared that Rahimi was getting involved in terrorism, and believed in the slogan, "See something, say something". The FBI took no action, he said.

"My father failed like the system failed him," Rahimi said.

US District Judge Richard Berman said Rahimi had offered no explanation for his behaviour that would warrant imposing less than the two life sentences, one of which was mandated by federal law.

"I get it," Mr Berman told Rahimi after announcing the sentence. "You might have grievances, and they might be genuine, but there's no comparison between those slights or grievances you might have and the acts you undertook as the Chelsea bomber."

One person who was near the blast, Ms Pauline Nelson, also stood up to address Rahimi.

"I'm an immigrant like you," she told him. "I came here and I did what I had to do... You have no remorse for what you did," she said. "God forgive you."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline ''Chelsea bomber' gets two life sentences'. Print Edition | Subscribe