Welcome to New York, Mr. William Sweeney. It’s the city that never sleeps -- and where, unfortunately, some idiotic misfit decided to set off pipe bombs a couple of weekends ago in the name of a twisted personal jihad.
Your job, Mr. Sweeney, now that Ahmad Khan Rahami has been apprehended, is to figure out if he had any help.
It was only two months ago that Sweeney, an Irish American originally from Philadelphia, who attended Villanova University, was named as the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York Field Office. In other words, it’s his job to get to the bottom of any and all terrorist activities in the area.
Rahami allegedly planted a series of bombs in his native state of New Jersey as well as in Manhattan. Following a shootout, he was captured thanks to tips from a couple of regular Jersey guys as well as heroic law enforcement officers.
Sweeney told CNN and other news outlets following Rahami’s capture that there is "no indication" of an active operating cell in the New York area.
However, sources also told CNN that “evidence suggests Rahami was not acting alone.”
Sweeney himself told reporters, ”As far as whether he's a lone actor, that's still the path we are following, but we are keeping all the options open.”
And so, Sweeney has a big job to get him started in New York. Lingering amidst the more pressing question of whether or not there is a terrorist on the run are questions about how the FBI handled Rahami’s father, who told authorities about his son’s suspicious activities two years ago.
Then again, a look at Sweeney’s resume suggests he’s more than up to the challenge. Prior to his new posting in New York, he was in charge of the FBI’s field office in his hometown of Philadelphia. But Sweeney is no stranger to the Big Apple.
In 2014, Sweeney served as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division of the New York Field Office, overseeing the Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as all FBI counterterrorism investigations and operations in New York.
Sweeney began his law enforcement career in 1998, working on public corruption cases out of the FBI’s Newark Field Office. By 2004 he, like many others in the FBI, had shifted full time to the terrorism beat. He worked on the al Qaeda squad of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and later earned a promotion to squad supervisor. Before joining the FBI, Sweeney served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Vella Gulf.
Sweeney wasn’t the only Irish American on the hot seat this week.
Thankfully, back over in Jersey, the stakes are merely political life and death, in the Bridgegate trial. The case centers on whether or not New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knew about closing George Washington Bridge lanes as political payback for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie.
Some of the most damning evidence last week came from Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, whose parents were Irish immigrants.
After he learned the lanes were mysteriously closed, Foye dramatically ordered them reopened. He noted at the time that not only were the closures a big pain for commuters, but also that ambulances were caught in the snarled mess and that “someone could have died.”
Astonishingly, Foye testified, Christie aide Bill Baroni, who is on trial along with Irish American Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly, still wanted the lanes closed.
“He said the issue was important to Trenton,” testified Foye, who was appointed to the bi-state agency by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“I took that to be the governor’s office,” Foye added, “and (Baroni) said Trenton would or might call. I took it to mean that the governor of New Jersey would call the governor of New York.”
But Foye was having none of this.
“I said they should call.”
When all is said and done, Chris Christie’s political future may be about as bright as Ahmad Khan Rahami’s.