Two years ago, the father of the man accused of carrying out bombings last weekend in New York and New Jersey explicitly warned federal agents about his son's interest in terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and his fascination with jihadi music, poetry and videos, according to the father.
In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday night, Mohammad Rahami, whose son Ahmad has been charged with using weapons of mass destruction and setting off explosions in public spaces, recounted his interactions with the FBI after he raised concerns about his son.
While Mohammad Rahami has spoken briefly about his contact with the FBI, the interview Wednesday was his most detailed public account so far.
Mohammad Rahami's contact with the authorities started in August 2014, when the local police were called to the family's home after a domestic dispute during which Ahmad Rahami stabbed his brother, according to court records.
Mohammad Rahami said that during the course of the investigation, the FBI became involved and he told agents from the bureau everything he knew about his son's activities.
"I told the FBI to keep an eye on him," he said. "They said, 'Is he a terrorist?' I said: 'I don't know. I can't guarantee you 100 percent if he is a terrorist. I don't know which groups he is in. I can't tell you.'"
Mohammad Rahami offered details to the FBI about what he saw as his son's increasingly disturbing behavior.
"The way he speaks, his videos, when I see these things that he listens to, for example, al-Qaida, Taliban, he watches their videos, their poetry," he said he told federal agents.
In the interview, he spoke about his son's admiration of Anwar al-Awlaki, once al-Qaida's leading propagandist, who is also popular with the Islamic State's followers, and how he watched al-Awlaki's videos, but it was unclear if he mentioned al-Awlaki's name to the agents.
The agency, in a statement earlier in the week, said it had conducted an assessment of Ahmad Rahami that included multiple interviews with the father, a review of FBI databases and public records and checks with other agencies. But the review did not turn up anything that warranted further inquiry, and the matter was closed.
Two law enforcement officials said that Ahmad Rahami was never interviewed, even though he was in jail at the time of the inquiry. His father questioned why they never spoke with his son.
"They didn't do their job," he said in the interview, which was conducted in his native language, Pashto.
The agency had no immediate comment Thursday on Mohammad Rahami's statements.
The FBI assessment of Ahmad Rahami was the second time he had come on the radar of federal authorities.
Five months earlier, in March 2014, when he returned from a nearly yearlong trip to Pakistan, he was flagged by customs officials, who pulled him aside for a secondary screening. Still concerned about his travel, officials notified the National Targeting Center, a federal agency that assesses potential threats, two law enforcement officials said.
That report was also reviewed by the FBI when it conducted its assessment of Ahmad Rahami in August.
But it is not known how much detail the report contained about Ahmad Rahami's activity while he was overseas.
Investigators are focused on the time he spent abroad and are looking into whether he had any training in bomb making and whether he is connected to any larger terrorist network.
A notebook recovered from Rahami after he was shot and taken into custody by the police in New Jersey suggested that he took much of his inspiration from the Islamic State and one of their founders, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani — who recently called on Muslims around the world to spill the blood of Westerners and unbelievers wherever they find them. Al-Adnani was killed in a U.S. drone strike in August.
While much of the writing in the journal is illegible because the book was punctured by a bullet and splattered with blood, what can be read suggests that Ahmad Rahami may have himself been frustrated in his attempts to reach Syria and was using that as justification for committing terror at home.
One page has the word "blocked," followed by: "You should have let us meet death overseas."
Rahami's father said that he had been worried for some time about the direction his son was heading, well before he spoke to federal agents.
He described his son's internet activities as "a disease," akin to an addiction.
After the 2014 domestic dispute, he said, he visited his son in jail.
Ahmad Rahami asked for his forgiveness, but the father said he would not forgive him until he was sure he was not a terrorist and the FBI had cleared him.
"In two months, the FBI came back to me and said he's clean," Mohammad Rahami said. "They didn't find anything on him. But they didn't interview him."
"I still had my doubts," he said. "I was never 100 percent clear."
At that point, he said he decided not to pursue the charges stemming from the domestic dispute. Court records show that a grand jury declined to indict Ahmad Rahami on the charges.
The father said he believed he did his duty by sharing his concerns with law enforcement. "What was required of me, I did," he said. "And he's not a kid, he's 28 years old."