New York City bomber sentenced to life in prison

NEW YORK (NBC) -- A New Jersey man allegedly inspired by ISIS and al Qaeda to plant bombs in New York City and New Jersey was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday — after complaining that he was being discriminated against for being Muslim.

"I don't harbor hate toward anyone," Ahmed Khan Rahimi said during a rambling statement in which he criticized the FBI, prosecutors and prison officials, who accused him of distributing terrorist propaganda behind bars.

But, he added, "I have come to understand why there is such a big frustration between Muslims overseas and the American people."

Rahimi, 30, said nothing about the victims of the September 2016 bombing in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood that injured 30 people — something prosecutors noted in asking for the maximum sentence.

"Mr. Rahimi just stood here for the last 10 minutes and blamed everyone else for his actions," Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Crowley said. "He is unrepentant. He shows no sympathy for his victims."

A half-dozen victims sat in the front row of the courtroom to see Rahimi sentenced. Rahimi's father, who has said his son was a terrorist who could have been stopped by the FBI, sat in a back row, his forehead resting on his hand.

The younger Rahimi was convicted in October of eight federal charges stemming from two bombs: One that detonated in a dumpster in Chelsea, and another left blocks away that didn't go off.

One of the charges called for a maximum life sentence so his punishment was pre-ordained, but U.S. District Judge Richard Berman also gave him the maximum on the other counts for a total of two life sentences and 30 years.

Berman noted it was miraculous the Chelsea bomb didn't kill anyone.

"It's inexplicable that anyone would do that intentionally," he said. "But it's clear from the evidence and the record that you did."

Rahimi is also accused of planting a bomb near a race route in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, that detonated before the runners passed by, and of leaving six bombs in backpacks near the Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station. He is awaiting trial in New Jersey on those charges.

Rahimi, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan, was arrested after a gunfight with New Jersey police, who found he was carrying a journal with praise for Islamic terrorists and promises of violence.

"The sounds of bombs will be heard in the streets," he wrote.

Rahimi, a father of three who had worked in his family's fried-chicken restaurant, was not charged with terrorism, but his father said he has no doubt that's what fueled his son.

The father, Mohammad Rahimi, said on Monday that he contacted the FBI in 2014 to say he was worried his son might have been radicalized.

"After two months, they say, 'Your son is not doing any act like a terrorist,'" Rahimi said. "I said, 'You sure he not doing anything?' He say, 'Yeah, is good news.'"

"My son, he did wrong, and the FBI did the wrong, too," the father added. "The government is responsible for that reason. They have the power to stop the crime and they did not stop the crime."

In court, Rahimi echoed his father's remarks, seeming to blame the FBI for not stopping him sooner.

"My father did his best to try to quell everything down," he said. "He feels like the system failed him."

The FBI has said that the bomber's father did not tell it about his son's possible terrorist leanings.

But federal prosecutors say that after his arrest, Rahimi passed on terrorist propaganda and instructions on how to make explosives to other inmates.

Rahimi railed at that accusation in court, saying one of the inmates had been "groomed" by the FBI in a sting operation and was radicalized long before they ever crossed paths.