Monday, May 3, 2010

Terror in Times Square: CCTV footage shows white suspect changing his clothes
By Daniel Bates

Suspect: Police want to speak to a man pictured changing out of a dark jumper beside the vehicle

Pakistan Taliban claims responsibility for attempt

Police investigate South Park link

New York car bomb investigators are looking into claims a man pictured on CCTV footage soon before the vehicle began smoking was behind the attempted terrorist attack.

The white man aged in his 40s was caught on camera active in a 'furtive manner' at the scene and changing out of a dark jumper to reveal a red shirt underneath.

The alarm was raised at about 6.30pm on Saturday, after passers-by and police noticed smoke pouring from the vehicle and saw a flash inside.

It has also emerged that the bomb could have been aimed at the creators of the controversial cartoon South Park.

New York Poice Department surveillance image of a dark SUV entering Times Square, said to be the vehicle with a bomb

The alarm clock found in a dark SUV which is said to be in the vehicle with the bomb

Viacom, which makes the comedy show, has offices near where the bomb was found and defused in Times Square.

The show's writers were threatened with reprisals last month over an episode mocking the prophet Mohammed.

A bomb squad officer examines the Nissan Pathfinder car. Smoke emerging from the vehicle first alerted officers to the 'car bomb'

Police evacuated a number of streets surrounding Times Square after the car bomb was noticed at about midnight GMT, 6.30pm local time

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in an audio message published online yesterday.

But New York police commissioner Ray Kelly played down that claim, although he refused to rule out Taliban involvement.

The discovery of the bomb led to packed Broadway shows, hotels and streets being evacuated while bomb squads worked to make the device safe.

A bomb disposal vehicle arrives at the scene after an explosive device was found in an SUV parked in Times Square

A 4x4 was parked in the crowded tourist attraction packed with fireworks, several bags of powder thought to be fertiliser, three propane tanks, two five-gallon plastic jugs of gasoline and a soft drink can thought to contain gunpowder - all primed to go off remotely by a timer made of two clocks and electrical components.

'I'm not a hero': Street vendor Duane Jackson, the man who spotted the bomb, at his stand in Times Square a day after the incident

The bomb failed to ignite fully and police were alerted to the smoking truck.
They were able to clear the area and defuse it.

'The death toll could have been enormous,' a police source said.

'It was a nice day and Times Square was completely packed.'

Police are studying footage of the suspect in his 40s caught on CCTV entering the alley next to where the truck was found.

He was seen taking off a dark coloured shirt to reveal a red one underneath.
Police Commissioner Mr Kelly dismissed suggestions the car bomb was an 'amateurish' device.

Mr Kelly said: 'The intent of whoever did this to cause mayhem, create casualties.'
He added that the bomb was a reminder New York 'is clearly a target of people who want to come here and do us harm'.

The car bomb was parked on West 45th Street near 7th Avenue next to an entrance to the Minskoff Theatre, home of hit musical The Lion King.

The engine was left running and the hazard warning lights were on.

At about 6.30pm Duane Jackson, a T-shirt seller, spotted smoke coming out of the vehicle and alerted officer Wayne Rhatigan.

'I did a lap around the vehicle,' Mr Rhatigan said. 'The inside was smoking. I smelled gunpowder and knew it might blow.' Tourist Richard Von de Breggan added: 'Suddenly I saw a flash in the car. It was not big. 'It was like a small hand grenade going off in the car. The windows stayed in and there was smoke.'

Bomb squad members worked through the night to diffuse the explosive device found in the car

The bomb squad eventually used a robot to make the device safe.

'We are very lucky,' said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. 'We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.

A policeman stands guard on one of the deserted streets after the alarm was raised

Was the bomb aimed at the South Park office?

'Terrorists around the world who feel threatened by the freedoms that we have always focus on those symbols of freedoms and that is New York City.'

The square was opened to the public again yesterday. But there were fears of a 9/11-style sequence of attacks after another explosive device laid on a marathon route in Pittsburgh was found and defused.

Experts drew parallels to the failed attempt to bomb the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London in 2007.

Harold Copus, a former FBI special agent, told CNN that the use of household materials was a technique used by Al Qaeda around the world, but notably in London.

President Barack Obama praised the emergency services.

He said: 'We're going to do whatever is necessary to protect the American people, to determine who was behind this potentially deadly act and see that justice is done'

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