Sunday, May 02, 2010

Terror in Times Square [almost]

New York City Police in special gear near the Nissan SUV

Police Find Car Bomb in Times Square -Al Baker & William K. Rashbaum

A crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks was discovered in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of [New York City's] Times Square on Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers on a warm and busy night. Although the device had apparently started to detonate, there was no explosion...

Members of the Police Department’s bomb squad donned protective gear [pictured above], broke the Pathfinder’s back windows and sent in a “robotic device” to “observe” it, said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the police department’s chief spokesman.

Inside, they discovered three canisters of propane like those used for barbecue grills, two five-gallon cans of gasoline, consumer-grade fireworks and two clocks with batteries, the mayor said.

Mr. Browne said: “It appeared it was in the process of detonating, but it malfunctioned.”

The White House said President Obama had been briefed on the episode and had pledged federal assistance in the investigation.
[New York Times]


U.S. Seeks Pakistani Tied to Times Square Bomb -William K. Rashbaum, et al

Federal authorities have identified the man who recently bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder that was rigged to explode in Times Square as a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan who recently returned from a trip there, and were seeking to arrest him, according to several people briefed on the investigation.

The man, a Connecticut resident who was not publicly identified, bought the sport utility vehicle in Bridgeport, within the last three weeks, paying cash in a deal that involved no formal paperwork.
[New York Times]

Bomb Suspect Caught -William K. Rashbaum, et al

A Connecticut man [was] pulled off a plane bound for Dubai and arrested in Saturday’s night’s failed bid to set off a car bomb in Times Square...

The man, Faisal Shahzad [pictured], 30, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, was taken into custody just before midnight Monday at Kennedy Airport aboard an Emirates flight that had just pulled away from the gate, officials said. Mr. Shahzad had apparently driven to the airport in a white Isuzu Trooper that was found in a parking lot with a loaded handgun inside, the official said.
[New York Times]

Lapses Allowed Suspect to Board Plane -Scott Shane

Why was Faisal Shahzad permitted to board a flight for Dubai some 24 hours after investigators of the Times Square terrorism case learned he might be connected to the attempted bombing?

Though Mr. Shahzad was stopped before he could fly away, there were at least two significant lapses in the security response of the government and the airline that allowed him to come close to making his escape, officials of the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies said.

First, an F.B.I. surveillance team that had found Mr. Shahzad in Connecticut lost track of him before he drove to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, the officials said. As a result, investigators did not know he was planning to fly abroad until a final passenger list was sent to officials at the federal Customs and Border Protection agency minutes before takeoff.

In addition, the airline failed to act on an electronic message notifying all carriers to check the no-fly list for an important added name, the officials said.

That meant lost opportunities to flag him when he made a reservation and paid for his ticket in cash several hours before departure.

Top Obama administration officials praised the government’s handling of the investigation. But Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, while saying he was reluctant to criticize those in charge of airport security, added: “Clearly the guy was on the plane and shouldn’t have been. We got lucky.”
[New York Times]

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