'Chelsea Bomber' receives two life sentences

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New Jersey man convicted of planting bombs in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood in 2016 received two life sentences on Tuesday, after expressing no remorse in a Manhattan courtroom for engineering the explosion that injured 30 people.

"I don't harbor hatred towards anyone," Ahmad Khan Rahimi said in a courtroom packed with spectators, including some of the people who were injured when one of his bombs exploded on Sep. 17, 2016. "But through life experience, I have learned to understand why there's such frustration between the Muslim community overseas and the American people."

Rahimi, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, said that he had been "harassed" by authorities while traveling because of his Muslim appearance after he started practicing the religion.

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'Chelsea bomber' Ahmad Khan Rahimi
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'Chelsea bomber' Ahmad Khan Rahimi
Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen accused of planting bombs in New York and New Jersey, appears in Union County Superior Court for a hearing in Elizabeth, New Jersey, May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar
With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo alongside, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, seen here shaking hands with a policeman, surveys the site of an explosion which occurred in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, U.S., September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
A view of a mangled dumpster at the site of an explosion that occurred on Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, USA, September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Justin Lane/Pool
A New York City Police Department (NYPD) truck tows a spherical chamber carrying a second explosive device from near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Ahmad Khan Rahimi (on hospital bed) appears via video in a court room in Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S., October 13, 2016. Rahimi, accused of last month's bombings in New York and New Jersey that injured dozens of people, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of attempted murder stemming from his shootout with police. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen accused of planting bombs in New York and New Jersey, appears in Union County Superior Court for a hearing in Elizabeth, New Jersey, May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Evidence markers on the street surround Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials label and collect evidence near the site of an explosion which took place on Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen accused of planting bombs in New York and New Jersey, appears in Union County Superior Court for a hearing in Elizabeth, New Jersey, May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials stand amid the site of an explosion which took place on Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Evidence markers are seen on the street around officials from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A NJ Union county Sheriff stands guard as he listens to the hearing of Ahmad Khan Rahimi in a court room in Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S., October 13, 2016. Rahimi, accused of last month's bombings in New York and New Jersey that injured dozens of people, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of attempted murder stemming from his shootout with police. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A police car is seen near the entrance of University Hospital where Ahmad Khan Rahimi, who is accused of multiple bombings last month in New York and New Jersey, has been recovering from gunshot wounds he suffered in a shootout with police before his arrest, in New Jersey, U.S., October 13, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A NJ Union county Sheriff stands guard as he listens to the hearing of Ahmad Khan Rahimi in a court room in Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S., October 13, 2016. Rahimi, accused of last month's bombings in New York and New Jersey that injured dozens of people, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of attempted murder stemming from his shootout with police. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Ahmad Khan Rahimi, (L) an Afghan-born U.S. citizen accused of planting bombs in New York and New Jersey, appears with Deputy Public Defender Peter Liguori (R) in Union County Superior Court for a hearing in Elizabeth, New Jersey, May 15, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo survey the site of an explosion which occurred Saturday night in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, U.S., September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials mark the ground near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim speaks during a news conference following the conviction of Ahmad Khan Rahimi (not pictured) on terror charges outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, U.S., October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A tilted garbage dumpster is seen next to evidence markers near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers stand near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
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Rahimi also said that his father had reported him to the Federal Bureau of Investigation several years ago because he feared that Rahimi was getting involved in terrorism, and believed in the slogan, "see something, say something." The FBI took no action, he said.

"My father failed like the system failed him," Rahimi said.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said Rahimi had offered no explanation for his behavior that would warrant imposing less than the two life sentences, one of which was mandated by federal law. Rahimi's total sentence is life, followed by another mandatory term of 30 years, followed by a second term of life.

"I get it," Berman told Rahimi after announcing the sentence. "You might have grievances, and they might be genuine, but there's no comparison between those slights or grievances you might have and the acts you undertook as the Chelsea bomber."

One person who was near the blast, Pauline Nelson, also stood up to address Rahimi.

"I'm an immigrant like you," she told him. "I came here and I did what I had to do."

"You have no remorse for what you did," she said. "God forgive you."

Rahimi's lawyer, Xavier Donaldson, argued that the court should impose a sentence of only 15 years or less on top of the mandatory 30-year and life terms. He said consecutive life sentences would not "show the world justice."

In addition to the bombs in Manhattan, Rahimi was accused of planting a bomb on the route of a charity running race in New Jersey, which exploded without injuring anyone, and shooting at New Jersey police before being captured. He still faces separate charges in New Jersey over those accusations.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)

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