Officials: Suspects in bomb scare could run the gamutBy ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO
May 3, 2010
Officials acknowledged Sunday that the range of possible suspects in Saturday night's bombing attempt in Times Square runs from a lone perpetrator to an international terrorist group like the Taliban or al-Qaida.
The possibilities that an anarchist group inspired by May Day or Muslims angry about a recent episode of "South Park" that depicted the prophet Muhammad were responsible were also being examined, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday.
"South Park" is part of the lineup of programs on Comedy Central, produced by Viacom Inc., which has offices at 1515 Broadway, about a block away from the car bomb location.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) was the most forceful proponent that someone acting as a "lone wolf" could have set the abortive bomb device. He based that on the fact that there didn't appear to be any electronic or communications intelligence chatter about a larger plot picked up by law enforcement.
"They had no prior knowledge of anything happening," Schumer said on CNN's State of The Union program. "So, the odds - not a certainty, because the investigation isn't concluded - but the odds are quite high that this was a lone wolf."
Kelly noted that an individual sent an e-mail to a New York news organization claiming responsibility but said there was no indication the person had any ties to a terrorist organization.
The failure of the bombing device to initiate an explosion prompted security expert Chris Falkenberg to suggest that a group like al-Qaida, which has explosive expertise, wasn't involved. "I am suspicious of the Pakistan [Taliban] claim," said Falkenberg, whose company Insite Security in Manhattan provides corporate security services. "If this is all al-Qaida can do . . . this is not very impressive."
Jerome Hauer, former head of the city Office of Emergency Management, agreed this wasn't the spectacular incident al-Qaida was threatening. "It's most likely an isolated person who wanted his 15 minutes of fame and didn't quite have the knowledge to do it effectively. This was someone who might have sympathy with al-Qaida but certainly doesn't appear to have been directed by them," Hauer said.
But Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) wouldn't dismiss the notion, based on the failure of the device to explode, that the Taliban or al-Qaida was involved or inspired the incident.
"This could be an al-Qaida affiliate or supporter of al-Qaida," King told Newsday. "It is similar to bombs used in London in 2007."
King was referring to the 2007 bombing attempts in the United Kingdom. In one attempt two Mercedes sedans loaded with propane tanks and gasoline containers failed to detonate outside a London nightclub. In another incident a Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane and gasoline was driven into the terminal of
Glasgow Airport in Scotland but failed to set off an explosion. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the suspects there were linked to al-Qaida.
King acknowledged the Times Square incident could wind up being linked to someone like Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh or a "mad man" but said al-Qaida had to be considered."Seeing that many [terror] attempts were al-Qaida, we have to assume at the start it is," King said.