NEW YORK — Hours before the FBI released a photo of bomb suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami in an urgent appeal for the public's help Monday, federal investigators recovered a crucial piece of information allegedly linking the 28-year-old Afghan immigrant to a series of planted devices, including the powerful explosive that injured 29 people Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
Authorities lifted a fingerprint from an unexploded pressure-cooker device, which, along with surveillance video allegedly showing a man resembling Rahami wheeling a suitcase carrying crude explosive devices to two downtown locations, launched investigators on a fast-moving manhunt that ended some 50 hours later with Rahami's arrest a few miles from the suspect's New Jersey home.
The fingerprint was key to providing much-needed focus to an inquiry that now shifts to determine the suspect's possible motivation, a federal law enforcement official who is not authorized to comment publicly told USA TODAY on Monday.
Although authorities initially feared that a larger terror cell may have been responsible for the placement of explosives at two locations in New Jersey and on two separate streets in downtown New York, the FBI and New York officials appeared to discount that possibility Monday, saying that no other suspects were being pursued.
"There is no other individual we are looking for,'' New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a afternoon briefing at New York Police Department headquarters.
Captured following a shootout with Linden, N.J., police before noon Monday, investigators are now attempting to unravel Rahami's recent communications, travel, how he allegedly acquired bomb-making materials and what drove him to select such obscure targets for attacks.
CBS News reports Rahami had traveled to Afghanistan at least once recently.
Earlier, federal investigators converged on the stocky suspect's family home above a fried chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, N.J., where the suspect is believed to have lived. It was not immediately clear that the explosives were assembled there, the federal law enforcement official said, adding that other possible locations may have been used.
Five people were questioned at length overnight and early Monday, but FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said none of them had been charged. And none of the five, described as family members and people familiar with the suspect, were detained further after questioning.
Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police. (Photo: Ed Murray, AP)
While it was not immediately clear whether Rahami — shot three times during a confrontation with Linden, N.J., police — is cooperating with authorities, his wounds did not appear life-threatening, a federal law enforcement official said.
Born in Afghanistan in 1988, federal authorities described Rahami as a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Online business records show that a relative of the suspect, Mohammad Rahami, 53, is the owner of First American Fried Chicken, located at 104 Elmora Ave., in Elizabeth, N.J. Phone calls to the business Monday morning went to a voice mail machine.
New Jersey business records show that First American Fried Chicken was incorporated in 2003 by a woman named Molly Hamidullah. A woman who answered the phone Monday at what appeared to be Hamidullah’s most recent address, in Union, N.J., said Hamidullah no longer lived there.