Police found an “amateurish” but potentially powerful bomb in a smoking sport utility vehicle in Times Square, then cleared the streets of thousands of tourists milling through the area so they could dismantle it, authorities said Sunday.
DEADLY EVENT PREVENTED
Thousands of tourists were cleared from the streets of midtown Manhattan near Times Square after two T-shirt vendors alerted police to a blue Nissan Pathfinder that was smoking. Rescue crews arrived and discovered inside the vehicle three propane tanks, commercial-grade fireworks, M-88 fireworks, two filled five-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components. A 200-pound gun locker was also discovered in the back of the Nissan Pathfinder.
The bomb apparently started to detonate but malfunctioned. The explosives would have made a significant blast and fire if it detonated.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the Pathfiner had been removed, but a number was discovered in another location that had not been removed and the background of the vehicle was being traced. The license plates were stolen off of a vehicle that was registered to a Ford pickup truck that was in a junkyard. The owner of that truck has been ruled out as a suspect.
Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on ABC’s “This Week” program Sunday morning:
“Times Square I think is now safe and I believe that right now we have no information other than it is a one-off. But nonetheless we are alerting state and local law enforcement, everybody, to be on their toes.”
New York City’s police commissioner Ray Kelly says there’s no evidence of a Taliban link to a failed bomb found in an SUV parked in Times Square. Officers will talk to a man who believes he may have recorded a bombing suspect on his video camera.
As part of the investigation, the vehicle was first noticed in the area at about 6:28 p.m. Surveillance video showed the car driving west on 45th Street before it parked between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Also, a video shows a man in his 40’s taking off a dark shirt to reveal a red shirt.
SITE, an intelligence monitoring group, released a one-minute video allegedly from the Pakistani Taliban, in which it claimed responsibility for the failed bombing in a Nissan Pathfinder left parked in the city on Saturday night. The US-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors militant websites, said the Pakistani Taleban claims the attack is revenge for the death of its leader Baitullah Mehsud and the recent killings of the top leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq.