On Monday morning, Ahmad Khan Rahami—a 28-year-old naturalized citizen from Afghanistan living in Elizabeth, New Jersey—was taken into police custody following a shootout with authorities. Found sleeping in a doorway in Linden, a suburb some 15 miles outside of Manhattan, Rahami is the primary suspect in the bombings that rocked New York City Saturday night.
In the wake of the blast, which left 29 people injured, the New York Times dug into Rahami’s past, discovering that his family owns a restaurant called First American Fried Chicken on Elmora Avenue. Rahami—known as “Mad” to his friends—was living in an apartment above the restaurant, and frequently worked behind the counter.
After Rahami’s ties to First American Fried Chicken became clear, the restaurant’s Yelp page was flooded with angry (and sometimes Islamophobic) messages from the public. But even before the suspect allegedly filled a pressure cooker with bits of shrapnel and placed it in a Chelsea dumpster, the restaurant was considered a "nuisance" on Elmora Avenue, according to the Times. The chicken joint drew “boisterous and often intoxicated late-night crowds,” and allowed Rahami’s friends to host underground rap battles in the back of the shop.
Flee Jones—a regular customer who grew up with Rahami—told the Times that the suspect’s family was always hospitable towards him. He wrote a rhyme for the restaurant called “Chicken Joint,” which was used for informal marketing, and described First American Fried Chicken as “nothing but good vibes.”
Jean Adam—another rapper who goes by the name Orlando, and performs with a group called Party of 5ive—co-wrote the one-minute rap with Jones. “Those fries will feed me you best believe me,” he says in the song.
Though little is known about Rahami’s political affiliations and ideologies, Jones told the Times that he noticed a change in the suspect's attitude and demeanor after his trip to Afghanistan four years ago.
“It’s like he was a completely different person,” Jones said. “He got serious and completely closed off.”
[via New York Times]