For the first time since the New York and New Jersey bombings, authorities have offered the first indications of a possible motive.

An FBI complaint says that suspect Ahmad Rahami had praised a former top al-Qaeda leader, referenced Isis (islamic State), touched on extremist ideologies and decried the United States for its military actions in countries like Afghanistan and Syria.

Rahami has been charged with nine counts stemming from the attacks, including using weapons of mass destruction and bombing a public place, and could face up to life in prison.

Investigators have said they are still trying to determine whether Rahami had any outside help.


A handwritten journal was found on Rahami after the shootout, according to the complaint filed in Manhattan, and included an initial glimpse at what authorities said was his mindset after the bombings.

Included in the journal was a reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who was a top leader for al-Qaeda in Yemen, said the complaint.

During a hearing today discussing how to prevent future attacks, Congressman Michael McCaul, who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, displayed what he said was a copy of the journal found on Rahami, which appears tinged with blood and was apparently pierced by a bullet.

The journal included notes that the FBI was looking for him, discussed shooting police and said he was praying to Allah "to not take JIHAD away."

According to the complaint, the journal was damaged during the exchange of gunfire. This journal also included references to the Boston Marathon bombings, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting in Texas and "Brother Osama Bin Laden".

When McCaul showed what he said was an image from the journal at the hearing, it included what appeared to be references to Isis, the militant group that claimed responsibility for stabbings in a Minnesota mall last weekend but has been silent about the New York bombing.

The writing displayed by McCaul mentions "Brother Adnani," an apparent reference to Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who was killed last month, and the word "Dawla," an Arabic word for "state".

The page McCaul showed included the same language mentioned in the FBI complaint about attacking the kuffar - or non-believers - "in their backyard".

The FBI said that it was seeking "two unknown individuals" - the two men viewed on surveillance footage encountering the bomb that did not detonate in Manhattan on Sunday. In this footage, the two men are seen finding a suitcase, removing the explosives from it and then leaving with just the suitcase, officials said.

Police have said that the two men are being viewed as witnesses, not suspects. But in an announcement sent out, the FBI said agents are "interested in speaking to these individuals and recovering the luggage".

"We have no reason to believe that they're connected," James Waters, the New York Police Department's chief of counterterrosim, said. "I cannot stress enough. They are witnesses at this time. "

Waters said investigators have pursued more than 100 leads in the case. He said the improvised explosive removed from the suitcase "was a very shock sensitive device," adding of the two men who removed it: "They're very, very lucky."

Even as investigators continue to seek more surveillance footage as they probe the bombings, the criminal cases related to the attacks have got underway.

Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said the federal charges against Rahami "reflect the Justice Department's unwavering determination to find, capture and prosecute all those who attempt to commit or commit acts of terror against our nation".

Lynch, speaking at a conference in Washington, praised law enforcement for their efforts and also singled out the "crucial role" played by citizens who found un-exploded bombs and alerted authorities.

David Patton, the top federal defender in New York, asked for Rahami to have a first court hearing today, suggesting that the suspected bomber could participate from his hospital bed.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said that the first case to proceed would be the federal case in Manhattan. Prosecutors there, he said, had filed a writ with the US Marshals service and expected Rahami would soon be brought into that district.