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TRAVEL ADVISORY – Multiple Bombings Using Improvised Devices in New York and New Jersey

Key Points:

  • On 17 September 2016, an explosion occurred at 2030LT on 23rd street and 7th Avenue in Chelsea, New York City. Twenty-nine persons were injured. Earlier on the same day, a pipe bomb detonated in Seaside Park, New Jersey along a 5km charity race route for veterans.
  • A pressure cooker explosive device was uncovered a few blocks away on 27th street and 7th
  • Ahmad Khan Rahami, a wanted suspect by the FBI, is now in custody after a brief shoot-out with police forces.

Situation Summary:
Terrorism: An investigation is currently underway to determine who is behind the weekend bombings in New York and New Jersey. Authorities have been hesitant to attribute the attacks to a specific terror cell. The New York Police Department announced on 19 Sept 2016 they are searching for a 28 year old man named Ahmad Khan Rahami. He is believed to be connected to the explosions in New Jersey and New York. Multiple suspicious devices have been uncovered at Elizabeth train station early on Monday morning which was consequently evacuated. So far five people have been detained in connection with the bombings.


Intrinsic Comment:
The last terrorist bombing in the US was the Boston Marathon bombing on 8 April 2015. Some sources claim the devices used in the bombings in New York and New Jersey used the same explosive material as was used in the Boston bombings. The current suspect wanted for questioning is a naturalized US citizen who was born in Afghanistan. Although foreign involvement in the recent attacks has not been confirmed, the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has suggested there may be international links. It is important to note, that another terror incident occurred in Minnesota when a man identified as Dahir A. Adan stabbed nine people in a mall before being fatally shot by an off-duty officer. This incident has reportedly been claimed by the Islamic State, who has encouraged lone-wolf attacks throughout the United States. Travellers should remain aware that terror attacks may occur indiscriminately and by a variety of means.

Intrinsic Security Advice:
Risk Ratings: United States: Low New York: Low
Travel Information: Commuters should remain up to date with delays in rail services and public transport services. Train services were temporarily suspended at the Elizabeth station due to the evacuation. It is advisable to avoid the locations where devices have detonated or been uncovered. Due to ongoing investigations, these areas may remain closed off. There is potential that more devices could be planted by accomplices at strategic locations in New Jersey and New York. Security has been increased throughout New York City. Additional NYPD personnel will be visible on the streets. Some teams will be on guard with heavy weaponry at strategic locations.

Terrorism: Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was wanted for questioning by the FBI, was detained in Linden, New Jersey after having shot and injured one police officer. Although more suspects have also been detained, the extent of the bombing plot is yet to be determined.

Clients should maintain situational awareness and follow instructions by local authorities. Travel delays can be expected due to road and station closures. Overall, the risk rating for the United States remains low. Due to the increased security operations currently in New Jersey and New York, the risk rating remains low however vigilance is advised. The risk rating for New York has been revised since the arrest of Ahmad Rahami, however this will continue to be monitored. Suspects currently being searched for may be armed and potentially dangerous.

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