The man arrested Monday for setting explosives in New York and New Jersey that injured 29 people, Ahmad Rahami, was an 'Americanized' asylum seeker who moved to the United States with his family in 1995 when he was 7 years old. Called A "class clown," he was considered nice and friendly by schoolmates and worked at his family's chicken restaurant in Elizabeth, N.J. However, acquaintances said Rahami changed drastically after he returned from a trip to his home country of Afghanistan, two years ago, apparently then focused on his Muslim religion.
Friends told the Boston Herald that Rahami, 28, was transformed in Afghanistan.
"At one point he (Rahami) left to go to Afghanistan, and two years ago he came back, popped up out of nowhere and he was real religious,' said Flee Jones, 27, in the Daily Mail.
"And it was shocking. I'm trying to understand what's going on. I've never seen him like this."
Jones told The New York Times that after returning from the trip, Rahami became "a completely different person" who was "closed off," and started praying in the back of the family's chicken restaurant.
The 28-year-old was arrested Monday after a shoot-out with cops after the bombs went off.
On Tuesday (Sept. 20), reporters asked Rahami's father, Mohammad Senior, 53, whether he believed the allegations against his son might be true. He said: "I'm not sure what's going on. I'm not sure what's happening exactly. But I think so. It's very hard right now to talk, okay?"
Rahami's father denied all knowledge of the terror plot.
One of Rahami's friends told CNN that Rahami's father had wanted him to go back to Afghanistan to learn discipline.
Rahami made "multiple" visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan CNN reported, although it's not clear whether this was before or after his transformation.
He also married a Pakistani woman, CNN's Situation Room reported.
A person who appeared to be related to Rahami, and who apparently shared his home, posted pro-Islamist militancy images on Facebook, AOL reported. The site's representatives stated someone of the same name as Rahami posted an image of foreign fighters training in Syria along with a quote by Khalid Bin Walid, named in the Koran as a military commander and companion of the Prophet Muhammad. The quote reads: "I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life."