Police Seek Answers In Times Square Bomb Attempt

A frame made from a surveillance video released by the New York Police shows a man (right) removing a shirt, not far from where the Pathfinder containing explosive materials was parked.
A frame made from a surveillance video released by the New York Police shows a man (right) removing a shirt, not far from where the Pathfinder containing explosive materials was parked. AP/NYPD

Investigators are looking into who was driving the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder filled with gasoline canisters, propane tanks and fireworks. Law enforcement officials say they believe the evidence points to some sort of an international link. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said detectives were following up on numerous leads and examining the design of the failed bomb.

Investigators from the FBI and the New York Police Department are trying to determine who was at the wheel of a crude car bomb parked in Times Square on Saturday.

The 1993 Nissan Pathfinder was parked on 45th Street near Broadway around dinnertime, filled with gasoline canisters, propane tanks, fireworks and a gun locker that appears to have been filled with fertilizer. The car was supposed to blow up, injuring anyone who might have been passing by at the time.

For the past 24 hours, television networks have been playing a particular video almost on a continuous loop. In it, a man stops in front of a storefront not far from where the car bomb was parked near Times Square. He stops, rests his backpack against a pole, takes off a blue sweatshirt to reveal a red shirt beneath. He looks over his shoulder several times in the direction of the SUV and then puts his sweatshirt into his backpack and continues along his way.

Men In Videos

Is he a suspect?

For the past 24 hours, it seemed like he was. Then on Monday New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tamped down such speculation.

"He could be totally innocent," Kelly told CNN. "This is one of the first videos we obtained. We thought it warranted an interview. He is taking his shirt off, it was a very warm day, but this happened around the time that the pops started in the car."

Law enforcement sources say they are starting to think that the man caught in that videotape doesn't have anything to do with the bomb. Although they would not elaborate on a continuing investigation, it could be that the man caught in that first tape was exonerated by a second video taken by a tourist from Pennsylvania who was videotaping mounted policemen in Times Square around the time the Pathfinder was parked and started emitting smoke and the smell of gunpowder. His film apparently caught someone running north on Broadway. Kelly said that man isn't considered a suspect either. He said investigators would just like to speak to the men captured in both videos.

Investigators have already spoken to the registered owner of the 13-year-old Pathfinder. That person lives in Connecticut, and hadn't reported the car as stolen. That's because he sold the car to someone else three weeks ago.

Possible Links

So the next step is to figure out who was driving the car on Saturday night. The NYPD is trolling through hundreds of hours of surveillance video and talking to possible witnesses. Law enforcement officials close to the case told NPR that they believe the evidence is starting to point to some sort of international link to the attack. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the car bomb over the weekend, but law enforcement officials say they don't think the plot has any Taliban links. What it may have is some sort of Internet connection to suspected terrorist groups overseas. Officials declined to be more specific.

Officials quickly cautioned that all theories are still being tested this early in the investigation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told NBC's Today show that as eager as people are to find who was behind the attempted bombing, the investigation needs to play out.

"Right now, every lead has to be pursued," she said. "I caution against premature decisions one way or another."

Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

blog comments powered by Disqus