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Hunt for bomber who targeted the heart of New York

By Guy Adams

Thousands of tourists and theatre-goers were evacuated from Times Square in New York after a car bomb was found

PETER FOLEY/EPA

Thousands of tourists and theatre-goers were evacuated from Times Square in New York after a car bomb was found

The most audacious terrorist attack on New York since September 11th may have been foiled by "amateurish" bomb-making equipment and a quick-witted t-shirt salesman who alerted police to a car which had been filled with explosives and parked a couple blocks from Times Square, the city's busiest tourist district, on Saturday night.

Police are still trying to establish whether the bomb plot was the work of an isolated extremist or domestic militia, or whether it instead represented an attempt by Islamic terrorists to bring fear back to the streets of the city where al-Qa'ida destroyed the World Trade Center just under a decade ago.

A group calling itself the Pakistani Taliban group released a video last night claiming responsibility for the potentially-devastating but ultimately failed attack, which saw a Nissan SUV packed with propane tanks, petrol, and fireworks, and left a few blocks north of the always-bustling square.

Though smoke began pouring out of the vehicle at around 6.30pm, the bomb failed to detonate, and security teams successfully disarmed it after clearing tens of thousands of tourists and revellers from the surrounding streets. In a tape released on a militant website, the Taliban group nonetheless hailed: "a jaw-breaking blow to Satan's USA."

The car bomb, which security experts say was strong enough to have destroyed the front of nearby buildings if it had gone off properly, was a response to US drone attacks on Pakistan, according to the tape, together with "American interference in Muslim countries" like Afghanistan and Iraq.

However the group's claim was being treated with scepticism by New York's police, who cautioned reporters that Pakistan's Taliban has never previously struck outside of the subcontinent, and boasts a long history of wrongly claiming responsibility for attacks that other terrorist groups have carried out.

There is "no evidence" to support their claim of responsibility," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told a press conference, adding that "we can't rule anything in or out at this time," and saying that he has no idea whether the attack was planned by a domestic or foreign organisation.

Another theory doing the rounds was that the car bomb was aimed at the nearby offices of Viacom, the broadcasting conglomerate which owns Comedy Central, the channel that recently censored an episode of satirical show South Park featuring a depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.

Last month, a US-based group called Revolution Muslim carried a posting on its website warning the makers of the show that they would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh." Viacom's head office is roughly half a block from the spot where the Nissan had been parked.

The failed attack unfolded shortly after 6.30pm on Saturday, when a police officer on horseback discovered the bomb following a tip-off from a vigilant local street vendor of t-shirts. It was one of the busiest times of the week in the area known as "the intersection of the world" because of its traffic-clogged streets and tourist-filled pavements.

The car, which had its engine on and hazard lights flashing, was awkwardly parked on 45th street, just north of Times Square and a short walk from several Broadway theatres which were starting to fill-up for the night. It smelled strongly of gunpowder and had smoke billowing from air vents near to its back seats.

As police and fire-fighters flooded the area, evacuating several major buildings, bomb squad officers broke the SUV's windows and used a robotic device to observe the bomb. They discovered that it had malfunctioned while in the process of detonating.

The car contained three propane tanks of a kind usually used for powering gas barbecues, together with two five-gallon cans of petrol, several over-the-counter fireworks, and two alarm clocks which had been adapted with batteries and electrical wire so that they worked as detonators. After it was eventually declared safe, surrounding streets were re-opened around 5.30am.

"We are very lucky. Thanks to alert New Yorkers and professional police officers, we avoided what could have been a very deadly event," said the city's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. "It certainly could have exploded and had a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact."

Police have obtained security videos of the car driving to the scene, but are not thought to have got hold of footage of it actually being parked. The leading suspect is a white man in his 40s who was seen removing a dark shirt to reveal a red shirt, about half a block from the spot where the vehicle was left.

The car is now being examined at a local forensic laboratory, where investigators have got hold of hair and fibre samples together with a selection of fingerprints. It had fake number plates from Connecticut, and its serial numbers had apparently been filed away.

A gun locker found in the vehicle is also being examined. It is thought to have contained a large quantity of fertiliser.

Though Mr Bloomberg described the haphazard bomb as "amateurish", officials were anxious not to underplay the incident. New York's Fire Commissioner, Sal Cassano, said the bomb could have destroyed the front of a building, had it detonated. "This wasn't make-believe. This wasn't a false alarm. This was the real deal – to hurt people," he told reporters.

For anxious New Yorkers, the big question is now whether al-Qa'ida attempted the bombing as part of a renewed campaign to attack the city. Although the organisation has historically tended to carry out orchestrated operations involving multiple targets and several agents, Saturday's attempted attack bears at least some of its hallmarks.

In 2007, al-Qa'ida operatives left two cars packed with similar devices, made from propane tanks, petrol, and mobile-phone operated detonators, outside Tiger Tiger, a nightclub on Haymarket in London's West End. Neither successfully exploded, though, and the men responsible – Bilal Abdulla and Kafeel Ahmed – were arrested days later during a failed suicide attack on Glasgow airport.

Propane tanks are also commonly used by terrorists linked to al-Qa'ida to make car bombs in Iraq and the Middle East. And there have been signs recently that the group is once more targeting New York.

In February, Najibullah Zazi, a former airport shuttle driver, admitted attempting to make bombs to attack the city's subway system. In November, two former Brooklyn residents, Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff, were charged with conspiring to provide computer advice to the organisation.

Explainer: Pakistani Taliban

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack yesterday saying it was revenge for the death of its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a US drone strike last year. The claim also cited the killing by US and Iraqi forces of al-Qa'ida in Iraq last month.

At the time of his death, Mehsud had been Pakistan's most wanted man behind the insurgency that ravaged areas along the Afghan border.

The airstrike hit a compound belonging where the leader, who had a $5 million bounty on his head, reportedly was receiving treatment for his ailing kidneys.

There was no questioning his deadly effectiveness. He had used his mountainous tribal base to launch more than 200 suicide attacks killing more than 1,200 people before he died. In his last years, he had forged deep alliances with other militant groups in the region.

His successor was a young commander, Hakimullah Mehsud. It emerged last week that he was probably alive after reports that he had been killed in another missile strike.

The claim of responsibility for the Times Square attack posted on militant websites was treated with scepticism.

It would be a first for the group, which has never struck outside of South Asia, has no known global infrastructure and has previously claimed responsibility for an attack it was not involved with.

The nature of the attack "lends itself to the idea that this was a low capability group or even a lone individual," Henry Wilkinson, senior intelligence analyst at London-based security company Janusian, told Reuters.

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Comments

(no subject) - [info]hsdfgd - Sunday, 2 May 2010 at 11:52 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - [info]hsdfgd - Monday, 3 May 2010 at 12:15 am (UTC) Expand
good artcile
[info]qiongyi1986 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 02:47 am (UTC)
good artcile, i love to read articles here. i also love you guys to feel free to come to see my shops:http://www.beautywatches.com/
(no subject) - [info]gjmh - Monday, 3 May 2010 at 01:38 pm (UTC) Expand
Wanna bet?
[info]timspooner wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 02:54 am (UTC)
This will be another deranged Yank....................what's the odds ?
more jokes and ridicule
[info]ebbi581 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 05:28 am (UTC)
what bomber ? there was no bomber !! ask the fbi and cia , they should know who it was , one of them i�ll bet.
Re: more jokes and ridicule
[info]midwinter1947 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 12:15 pm (UTC)
Dear ebbi581, re you deranged? Surely, you don't have EVIDENCE of a conspiracy already? Or, do you just like betting on very long / impossible odds?
Re: more jokes and ridicule
[info]bbb_iii wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 01:32 pm (UTC)
No, he's just playing the odds.

The chances of this 'operation' NOT being carried out by State controlled forces is tiny!

If you are only convinced by EVIDENCE then look at 911 and see that the US Government offers ZERO EVIDENCE that the attacks in 2001 were perpetrated by anyone other than themselves.

Re: more jokes and ridicule
[info]ebbi581 wrote:
Wednesday, 5 May 2010 at 06:12 am (UTC)
well they have managed to fool you !! do you really think a bunch of arabs could train under usa�s security noses and then attack wtc ??? who is being naive now??? what happened after??? ask yourself?? whatever happened was to your and my disadvantage as far as liberty goes!!! who gained ?? just go to iraq and look around, you�ll see hundreds of foreign specially american companies not rebuilding but plundering and pillaging the country while you and i provide their security !! yes our sons and daughter !!! the soldiers , the army fully financed by us!!
time to wake up man. stop fulling around with your own and future generations�future.
Re: more jokes and ridicule
[info]someofusknow wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 07:45 pm (UTC)
Well the CIA was definitely in on the 9/11 scam (and almost certainly organised the placement of the demolition materials throughout the buildings), whereas the FBI seems not to have been in on the false flag operation -hence the huge row between the FBI and the CIA in the aftermath.
Re: more jokes and ridicule
[info]ebbi581 wrote:
Wednesday, 5 May 2010 at 06:15 am (UTC)
the point is that these bastards are taking us all for a ride !!!
Hunt for bomber who targeted the heart of New York
[info]alykhanmsatchu wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 05:41 am (UTC)
Its all very asymettric.

Aly-Khan Satchu
www.rich.co.ke
All Carefully Orchestrated but by Whom ?
[info]timsmith31 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 06:19 am (UTC)
That is the real question here... In 'this' case perhaps it was an armature job, lets face it the 'professionals' (CiA shadow group) in unmarked black uniforms are much more efficient at mayhem and terror than this. However, something very serious or major may well happen quite soon. An attack or atrocity of some very seroius kind, once again probably in the US, but not necessarily. How else will the people of the world and 'especially' America be duped into supporting the next Military Industrial Complex's NWO Operation ? go to: Infowars.com
Re: All Carefully Orchestrated but by Whom ?
[info]baiduc wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 01:36 pm (UTC)
i would agree with you, but first of all i have to mention Alex Jones's Infowars.com it comes to me , as another patriotic movement, using scarcity, to try to move the mass population on its side, and is really much still based on funds, and investing coporations, so in a way how i see it,this movement tries to get out from one bad social system to an even bigger danger, how is that possible to advertise on its website, which supposed to show another alternative, fire arm trainings, and push people into arming themself,
people in financial crisises, are often became desperate, for example if you look at european politics, far right, radical nationalist parties are starting to gain power, ( Hungary, Netherlands, even in the UK the BNP, etc.)
so my question is: do we know what is the right way out of the mass we are in?

my alternative is : www.thezeitgeistmovement.com
www.thevenusproject.com
New York Bombers
[info]verita_10 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 08:26 am (UTC)
Surely NYPD would have CCTV footage as Times square is a central position?
Conspiracy theories?
[info]geo32 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 08:28 am (UTC)
This "bomb" finding may spark of the many conspiracy theorists as they did when a few blocks away the twin towers attack took place.

Personally I find this bomb plot hard to believe and think it is just scaremongering. By who you may well ask but is not the USA the home of the biggest crime organisation in the world? The CIA

If either the Taliban or other Muslim extremists were to plant a bomb in one of the busiest cities in the USA it would have been an almighty explosion to show that these nutters have teeth and mean to scare the shit out of the US government
Re: Conspiracy theories?
[info]master_metatron wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 09:44 am (UTC)
I agree with you. I think this is just a reminder, so that poeple don't focus their attention on some other areas, like maybe how much it costs per year to preserve the Empire and troops on foreign soil. This all smells.
I'm surprised, they didn't say that Iran is the prime suspect.
So when do the Yanks invade Pakistan?
[info]fin_d_empire_19 wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 09:32 am (UTC)
It would never have occurred to Hakimullah Mehsud to put bombs in New York before the Yanks killed his dad and paid their stooge Zardari to bomb his people. He was minding his own business just like the rest of the Pashtuns, with whom Pakistan had a live-and-let-live deal. Then Hussein Obomber barged in with his AfPak follies and here we are a year later with the first Pak Taliban bomb in New York. Before it was just the Pak ISI, a subsidiary of the Yank CIA, that paid people to go crash jetliners into the WTC but with Obama's AfPak nuttiness, that sort of activity is bound to become more popular in that part of the world.

Meanwhile, another terror alert has gone up for India. The Pak ISI has found the time to throw together yet another Mumbai-style suicide commando, apparently.

So, one really wonders, when is this Yank "war on terror" going to start?. So far it's only been for oil and pipelines. When are the Yanks going to get serious about taking out the world's number one terrorism sponsor and nuke proliferator Pakistan?
Grammar
[info]losconejos wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 12:42 pm (UTC)
Tourists and theatre-goers can not be evacuated from Times Square. Times Square was evacuated (of tourists and theatre-goers)
(no subject) - [info]trdfa - Monday, 3 May 2010 at 12:46 pm (UTC) Expand
you wonder who to listen to!
[info]baiduc wrote:
Monday, 3 May 2010 at 02:03 pm (UTC)
i find it really hard to believe that this was a terror plot like all open minded,educated people on the globe, its useless arguing who has the best conspiracy theory, what makes me worried is the lack of real rational information about the USA's political situation and their connection to the american mass population,

i wonder what lower class americans think about their politics? and how they want to get out of it?
and here i have to mention, i read in one of the comments the infowar.com link,
do you really think that Alex Jones's project the prison planet tv is usefull in any sense?
think about its financial supporters, what you see is capital, and patriotic views, and the use of scarcity to gain more power and fame, what i think Alex Jones does is the same politics, with a different sounding manifesto

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