Hours after a pipe bomb exploded near the Jersey Shore during a 5K charity race for members of the United States Marine Corps on Saturday, the neighborhood of Chelsea in Manhattan was rocked by an explosion that left 29 people injured. New Yorkers were obviously left shaken by the blast, though Mayor Bill de Blasio assured residents there was no evidence pointing to terrorism, nor was there any identifiable link to the Jersey incident. During a press conference late Saturday night, de Blasio said, “This was an intentional act,” before adding, “We have no credible and specific threat at this moment.” He further stated, “New Yorkers will not be intimidated. We will not let anyone change who we are or how we go about our lives.” Law enforcement officials successfully removed a suspicious device found a few blocks away before discovering a second device attached to a cell phone and wiring they described as a possible “pressure-cooker.” The makeshift bomb was removed by a robot and taken to a designated firing range in the Bronx where it was successfully dismantled. Latest reports reveal more pipe bombs were found near the train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on Sunday night and officials now believe the two incidents could be connected.
Of the 29 reported injuries, only one was considered serious because it was a deep puncture wound, with the rest of the victims sustaining minor cuts and bruises from shards of shattered glass and debris. As of Monday, all of those treated for their injuries had been released from the hospital. The explosion, which reportedly happened around 8:30 pm, took place in the center of town in front of a home for the blind. The area is a popular hot spot, with several bars, restaurants and grocery stores that consistently boast bustling crowds. Currently, no motive for the acts or why these specific areas were targeted has been identified, though police did release a photo of a possible suspect, 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is wanted for questioning in connection with the attack(s). Rahami is a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent who the FBI said should be considered “armed and dangerous.” Though first agreeing with Mayor de Blasio that although intentional, the explosion had nothing to do with international terrorism, Governor Andrew Cuomo changed his tune this morning when he appeared on CNN saying, “I would not be surprised if we did have a foreign connection to the act.” He later appeared on CBS This Morning and stated, “There may very well be a foreign link.”
My question, then, is: why was this not considered a credible threat or an act of terrorism prior to this morning? Our nation seems to willfully forget how equally dangerous and prevalent domestic terrorism is to international acts of vengeance. When a person intentionally detonates a bomb, whether sophisticated or not, it is always an act of terrorism; it doesn’t matter where the culprit hails from. Trying to ease the nation with carefully scripted words of how we won’t back down or live in fear does nothing more than lull us into a false sense of oppressed security when the truth is, we are not safe. We’re continually spoon-fed lies to distract us from the everyday horrors taking place all around us. We’re taught to point fingers at everyone else because any form of protest or opposition to the contrary quickly escalates to being labeled a traitor or accused of lacking love for our country. There is no in between or middle ground anymore; you are either on “our” side or “theirs,” which is an extraordinarily dangerous assumption. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, de Blasio said, “We know it was a very serious incident, but we have a lot more work to do to be able to say what kind of motivation was behind this. Was it a political motivation? Was it a personal motivation? We do not know that yet.” I believe it was both. And that, to me, is the most terrifying of all.