You may well have been there and not even known it.
Elizabeth, N.J., the most recent home of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the 28-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen of Afghan descent recently detained in connection with Saturday’s bombings in New York City and New Jersey, contains part of Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the nation’s biggest, as well as being bisected by the 14 lanes of the giant Interstate 95 highway (also known as the New Jersey Turnpike).
Capital of Union County, it’s a gritty city, containing the huge Bayway Oil Refinery as well as a massive docks area, the Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal – one of the busiest in the world -- opening onto New York Harbor.
Rahami’s family operated a fried-chicken restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, in the Elmora section of the city, which is New Jersey’s fourth-largest municipality.
With almost 125,000 residents at the 2010 Census, it is home to a diverse population, with Hispanics/Latinos making up the largest segment. According to the Census, the racial makeup of the city was 54.65% White, 21.08% Black/African American, 0.83% Native American, 2.08% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 16.72% from other races, and 4.59% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 59.50% of the population.
The city, which lies about 15 miles southwest of Lower Manhattan, is home to several Islamic institutions, including the Masjid Darul Islam and Masjid-Al-Hadi mosques as well as the Muslim Community Center of Union County, and a fast-growing Muslim population.
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, Union County had about 10,000 active Muslims in 2010, a 414% jump over 2000. New Jersey has the second largest Islamic population in the United States, after Michigan. Figures for religious affiliations are not broken out by town or city.