Home / Top Story / Ahmad Khan Rahami’s family claimed anti-Muslim harassment

Ahmad Khan Rahami’s family claimed anti-Muslim harassment


Updated: Monday, September 19, 2016, 1:33 PM

The family of the man arrested for bombings in New York and New Jersey owns an embattled fast food restaurant — and their troubled son left a bad taste in patrons’ mouths.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, who was busted Monday morning after a police shootout, worked in his family’s First American Fried Chicken joint in Elizabeth. Police said he also lived with relatives in the apartment above the restaurant.

The family fought for years with the city government over citations and summonses for a series of complaints. Family members then sued the local government and police department for allegedly persecuting them because they are Muslim — but the case has been stayed.

Regulars at the restaurant remembered Rahami as a chilling presence behind the counter.

“He would never talk to you. He would just take your order,” Joshua Sanchez, 24, told the Daily News.

“I don’t know why, but I got a sense that he hated America. There was something weird about him. I never see him with friends. He was always very serious, no girlfriend, no nothing.”

Sanchez added, “If you ask me a week ago, I’d say he’s just an a–hole.”

Ahmad Khan Rahami.

Ahmad Khan Rahami.


Another regular, 23-year-old Jessica Casanova, told the News, “You could tell nothing is going his way.”

The family opened First American in 2002, according to court documents from their federal civil lawsuit.

Starting in 2008, the restaurant started getting slapped with tickets for allegedly staying open later than allowed, and disturbing neighbors.

The city council eventually passed an ordinance saying the eatery had to shut its doors at 10 p.m., according to Elizabeth Mayor Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. Even then, it didn’t happen, he said.

“I went to the neighborhood meetings and spoke with a lot of neighbors,” Bollwage told The News.

“Not one of the neighbors ever mentioned ethnicity or background or beliefs. The neighbors just wanted sleep.”

FBI personnel searching the family apartment above the restaurant.

FBI personnel searching the family apartment above the restaurant.


But three family members — including Rahami’s father, Mohammad R. Rahami — sued the city government, police department, several cops and at least one neighbor in 2011, accusing all of discriminatory harassment.

The family’s complaint said the restaurant’s troubles “were based solely on animus against plaintiffs’ religion, creed, race and national origin.”

The complaint also accused a neighbor of telling the family, “Muslims should not have businesses here” and “Muslims make too much trouble in this country.” The suit said several officers took the neighbor at his word about complaints without proper investigation.

Ahmad Rahami was not named in the suit.

The case was ordered to be dismissed in 2012, but it has been stayed since last year, court records show.


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