And the only reason it failed was because it didn’t go off even after detonating.
A crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks was discovered in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of 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, and early on Sunday the authorities were still seeking a suspect and motive.
Killing and injuring large numbers of people would seem pretty clear…Hmmm… but we wouldn’t want to do any profiling, would we?
A large swath of Midtown — from 43rd Street to 48th Street, and from Sixth to Eighth Avenues — was closed for much of the evening after the Pathfinder was discovered just off Broadway on 45th Street. Several theaters and stores, as well as the South Tower of the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, were evacuated.
At 6:28 p.m., Mr. Kelly said, a video surveillance camera recorded what was believed to be the dark green Nissan S.U.V. driving west on 45th Street.
Moments later, a T-shirt vendor on the sidewalk saw smoke coming out of vents near the back seat of the S.U.V., which was now parked awkwardly at the curb with its engine running and its hazard lights on. The vendor called to a mounted police officer, the mayor said, who smelled gunpowder when he approached the S.U.V. and called for assistance. The police began evacuating Times Square, starting with businesses along Seventh Avenue, including a Foot Locker store and a McDonald’s.
Police officers from the emergency service unit and firefighters flooded the area and were troubled by the hazard lights and running engine, and by the fact that the S.U.V. was oddly angled in the street. At this point, a firefighter from Ladder 4 reported hearing several “pops” from within the vehicle. The police also learned that the Pathfinder had the wrong license plates on it.
Members of the Police Department’s bomb squad donned protective gear, 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 — the apparent source of the “pops” — and two clocks with batteries, the mayor said. He said the device “looked amateurish.”
Mr. Browne said: “It appeared it was in the process of detonating, but it malfunctioned.”
Bomb squad officers also discovered a two-by-two-by-four-foot metal box — described as a “gun locker” — in the S.U.V. that was taken to the Police Department’s firing range at Rodman’s Neck in the Bronx to be destroyed, Mr. Kelly said. It was not immediately known what, if anything, was inside it.
What makes me nervous is the use of propane. Remember that London bombing plot three years ago, in which jihadis tried — and failed — to set off a bunch of car bombs around the city? Quote:
The car bombs were similar to highly destructive explosives used in Iraq and could have killed hundreds of people, U.S. and British officials told NBC News. British officials warned that the country was facing a “serious and sustained” terrorist threat…
Authorities believe [the first car] was intended to be set off by remote control by a cell phone found inside. The cell phone had received at least two calls, which should have detonated several gallons of gasoline, but when the calls came in, the bomb failed to go off, the official said.
Had it done so, that blast then would have ignited six to eight tanks of propane in a mist to make a fuel-air explosion, creating a fireball the size of a small house and propelling 18 to 20 boxes of roofing nails around a large area at bullet speed, counterterrorism officials said.
Fuel-air bombs are hugely destructive, as this harrowing Danger Room article published after the London plot broke made all too clear. A fuel-air bomb properly detonated in Times Square on a Saturday night likely would have killed hundreds of people. If that’s what this was — and the feds evidently aren’t sure yet, despite reports of “fireworks” going on in the back seat and someone running away from the vehicle — then there’s a seriously dangerous individual running around NYC right now. Stay tuned. While we wait, check out this PowerPoint presentation generated by the NYPD after the London plot was foiled. The last slide is the one you’re interested in.
Worried yet, Janet?