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 defended his family and criticized the FBI, prosecutors and prison officials.
But, he added, "I have come to understand why there is such a big frustration between Muslims overseas and the American people."
Rahimi, 30, claimed that he was harassed by federal authorities while traveling in Muslim garb. "I was singled out," he said.
He mocked prosecutors for referring to his diary as a letter, suggested he was punished for minor rule breaking in prison and even seemed to blame the FBI for not doing more to stop him when he was briefly investigated him in 2014.
Rahimi, 30, said nothing about the victims of the September 2016 blast in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood that injured 30 people — which 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. One of them, Pauline Nelson, told Rahimi that she cries every time she thinks of the night the bomb exploded near a car she was in.
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"You have no remorse," Nelson said. "God forgive you."
One of the counts called for a maximum life sentence so his punishment was preordained, but U.S. District Judge Richard Berman also gave him the maximum on the other counts for a total of two life sentences plus 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's attorney, Xavier Donaldson, said they plan to appeal. Asked why his client had not expressed remorse, he called him "a complicated person."
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 backpack near the Elizabeth, New Jersey, train station. He is awaiting trial in New Jersey on those charges.