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Lindsey Graham wants NY bomber treated as enemy combatant

Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Linden, N.J. Rahami was wanted for questioning in the bombings that rocked the Chelsea neighborhood of New York and the New Jersey shore town of Seaside Park.
Ahmad Khan Rahami is taken into custody after a shootout with police Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, in Linden, N.J. Rahami was wanted for questioning in the bombings that rocked the Chelsea neighborhood of New York and the New Jersey shore town of Seaside Park. AP

The 28-year-old suspect in Saturday night's bombing in New York City should be treated as an enemy combatant, Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Monday.

“I hope the Obama administration will consider holding Rahami as an enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes,” the South Carolina Republican said in a statement. “The suspect, based upon his currently reported actions, clearly is a candidate for enemy combatant status.”

Holding Rahami as an enemy combatant also allows us to question him about what attacks may follow in the future.

Sen. Lindey Graha, R-S.C.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, was arrested after being wounded in a gunfight with police on Monday morning. He is believed to be connected to an explosive device that detonated in the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan on Saturday night, injuring 29 people. A cell phone found inside a second, undetonated device in Manhattan on Saturday was linked to Rahami, according to New York law enforcement.

“We have every reason to believe this was an act of terror,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

American citizens can be held as enemy combatants if they take up arms against the U.S. or collaborate with enemies, giving the government more leeway in questioning the suspect. As an enemy combatant, Rahami would not be entitled to his Miranda rights or appointment of counsel.

Graham and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for the same treatment for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2013, which the White House refused to do.

“I have little confidence the Obama Administration will take the course of action I am proposing. Instead, they will read him Miranda Rights as soon as possible,” he said.

Graham said that while the authorities gather information about how the attacks were planned, holding Rahami as an enemy combatant would also allow them to question him immediately instead of focusing on a “future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete.”

“Holding Rahami as an enemy combatant to determine whether he has ties to terrorist groups, whether he was working for or funded by them, and whether there are co-conspirators, and then trying him in our civilian system for his terrorist acts is the best way to protect our country first, and then achieve justice,” he said in the statement.

Rahami is also believed to be connected to a smaller bomb that exploded near a 5K race in New Jersey earlier on Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday, noting that there were similarities in the devices. No one was injured.

Vera Bergengruen: 202-383-6036, @verambergen

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