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Chelsea Bomber Found Guilty on All Charges in Terror Trial

By  Maya Rajamani and Patrick Hedlund | October 16, 2017 11:46am | Updated on October 16, 2017 1:52pm

 Ahmad Khan Rahimi.
Ahmad Khan Rahimi.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg; (inset) Office of the Union County Prosecutor

MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT — The man who planted two bombs on the streets of Chelsea was found guilty Monday on all charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction, in the terror attack last year that wounded dozens of bystanders.

It took jurors just four hours of deliberations to convict Ahmad Khan Rahimi, 29, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, after his eight-day trial.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the crimes, prosecutors said.

"Inspired by ISIS and al Qaeda, Rahimi planted and detonated bombs on the streets of Chelsea, in the heart of Manhattan, and in New Jersey, hoping to kill and maim as many innocent people as possible,"  acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement immediately following the verdict. "Rahimi’s crimes of hate have been met with swift and resolute justice." 

Rahimi planted explosives on West 23rd and 27th streets on Sept. 17, 2017, as well as in Seaside Park and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

The West 23rd Street bombing wounded dozens of passersby and led to a manhunt that ended with Rahimi's capture in New Jersey.

"Just over a year after his attacks, and following a fair and open trial, Rahimi now stands convicted of his crimes of terror by a unanimous jury of New Yorkers," Kim added in his statement. "As a result, he now faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.  Today’s verdict is a victory for New York City, a victory for America in its fight against terror, and a victory for all who believe in the cause of justice.”

Rahimi sat solemnly Monday morning as the foreman revealed the jury's decision for each of the charges, closing his eyes for a moment as the foreman answered the eighth count with "guilty" and turning to watch as jurors made their way out of the courtroom after the verdict.  

Had Rahimi been found not guilty on the eighth charge, he could have avoided the mandatory life sentence he now faces, his attorney Sabrina Shroff said last week. 

As Shroff rode the elevator down to the first floor of the courthouse following Rahimi's conviction Monday, a reporter noted her client had seemed calm as the verdict was read. 

"Everyone handles bad news in their own way," she responded. 

Neither Shroff and her team nor the prosecutors commented on the verdict outside the courthouse. Rahimi still faces charges in New Jersey stemming from the shootout with police during which he was captured. 

In addition to being convicted of using a weapon of mass destruction, Rahimi was found guilty of bombing a place of public use and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, all of which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

He was additionally charged with destroying property with an explosive, attempting to destroy property with explosive, interstate transportation and receipt of explosives, and using a destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Attorneys for the government presented eight days worth of evidence and witness testimony during Rahimi's trial, including accounts from victims who were injured when the bomb he planted on West 23rd Street went off.

During closing arguments Friday, Shroff asked jurors to find her client not guilty of the three charges related to the bomb discovered on West 27th Street, maintaining he chose not to detonate it after hearing the explosion that rocked 23rd Street

Prosecutors refuted her claim, calling it "a cover story straight out of the al-Qaeda playbook.”

"Today’s verdict is the most forceful deterrent for anyone considering waging terror in our City," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement following the verdict, calling the fact no one was killed in the West 23rd Street explosion "miraculous."

In his own statement, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the bombing "an attempt to bring our city to its knees." 

"[Rahimi's] evil was met with the bravery and resiliency of a beautiful neighborhood and an entire city," de Blasio said. "New York City will never be intimidated." 

Rahimi is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18.