FBI handout photo of suspects wanted in connection with September 17 New York bombing.
FBI handout photo of suspects wanted in connection with September 17 New York bombing.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is asking the public for help in locating two men who allegedly found a piece of luggage on a New York sidewalk that contained an explosive device that may be tied to the suspect in Saturday's bombings in New York and  New Jersey.

On Wednesday the FBI issued a statement and a photo of two men that was taken on Saturday, September 17, in the same hour an explosive device detonated. The FBI said the men took the luggage, which was located only four blocks or so from the New York bombing site, and left the device behind.  That device did not detonate.

Federal investigators said during a news conference Wednesday the men are wanted as witnesses only.

Federal investigators said earlier the suspect in Saturday's bombings in New York and New Jersey has been charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction in the weekend attacks. Investigators said he bought components on eBay and used as triggering devices cell phones purchased from a store 500 meters from an address he once listed as his home.

Manhattan Explosion
Evidence teams investigate at the scene of Saturday's explosion on West 23rd Street in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood in New York, Sept. 19, 2016. Ahmad Khan Rahami, a U.S. citizen of Afghan descent has been charged in the bombing.

Multiple federal charges

The details are contained in criminal complaints made public Tuesday spelling out multiple federal charges against 28-year-old Ahmad Khan Rahami.  Most of the charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Authorities arrested Rahami on Monday after an exchange of gunfire with police that left him and two officers wounded.

According to the court documents, investigators believe Rahami used an eBay account with the username "ahmad rahimi" to buy citric acid, a circuit board, electric igniters and hundreds of ball bearings between June 20 and August 10.  The items were shipped to a business in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where Rahami worked until September 12.

Ball bearings were found in two pressure cooker bombs placed four blocks apart in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York late Saturday.  One of them exploded, injuring 29 people, while the other was recovered intact.  Investigators said the second bomb had "numerous" electric igniters.

That second device was tested for fingerprints, and the criminal complaint said all 12 prints found were matches for Rahami.  The documents say his prints were also found on items inside of a backpack that was discovered late Sunday at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, just outside of New York.  The bag contained multiple explosive devices, including one that blew up as police tried to disarm it with a robot.

Authorities also tied Rahami to a bomb that blew up in a trash can in Seaside Park, New Jersey, early Saturday.

That link involved one of the cell phones that investigators said were shipped last year to a store in Perth Amboy near the address that Rahami provided as his home in a 2012 passport application.  They said a second phone shipped to the same place was used in the bomb that blew up in Chelsea.

A third phone, one found with the other Chelsea bomb, was once registered to one of Rahami's family members, the documents said.

A still image captured from a video from WABC tele
A still image captured from a video from WABC television shows New York bombing suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami being loaded into an ambulance after a shoot-out with police in Linden, New Jersey, Sept. 19, 2016.

Surveillance video

Investigators also said they used surveillance video to tie Rahami to the Chelsea bombs, with cameras putting him near the explosion site about 37 minutes before the blast and near where the other bomb was found two minutes after the first one went off.  That second video, they said, showed him pulling a suitcase and then a short time later walking without it.

The documents contain some pieces of writing from a journal found on Rahami when he was arrested.  The messages include praise of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011, and "Brother Osama Bin Laden," the former head of al-Qaida who was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in 2011.

"Inshallah the sounds of the bombs will be heard in the streets.  Gun shots to your police.  Death To Your OPPRESSION," one message reads.

The FBI said Tuesday it assessed Rahami's activities in 2014 after his father told agents he was concerned about his son's possible involvement with extremists.

The agency found insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation.

Rahami was born in Afghanistan, came to the U.S. at age 7 and became a naturalized American citizen.