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Owner of S.U.V. Holding Bomb Material Is Located  

2010-05-03 23:59:39|  分类: 历史与文化 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Owner of S.U.V. Holding Bomb Material Is Located - 雪山飞狐 - JOKUL VOLANT TOD

The police released a surveillance video image of the S.U.V., top right, going through Times Square on 45th Street on Saturday. More Photos »


Published: May 3, 2010

This article is by Michael M. Grynbaum, William K. Rashbaum and Al Baker.

The police and F.B.I. investigators have tracked down the owner of the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder that contained the makings of a crude car bomb discovered in Times Square over the weekend, but he is not considered a suspect, the police said on Monday.

“We’ve identified and spoken to the registered owner,” said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, who stressed that the police had not yet identified a suspect or a motive. Nonetheless, the resolution of the vehicle’s provenance is a significant advancement in the 38-hour-old investigation.

Investigators continue to review surveillance footage from Saturday evening, when the car bomb was found, that showed a white man who appeared to be in his 40s walking away from the area as he looked over his shoulder and removed a layer of clothing. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. seemed optimistic in comments he made Monday morning. “We have some good leads," Mr. Holder told reporters in Washington.

Raymond W. Kelly, the New York City police commissioner, said on Sunday that officers found gasoline, propane, firecrackers and simple alarm clocks in the Nissan sport utility vehicle, as well as eight bags of a granular substance, later determined to be nonexplosive grade of fertilizer, inside a 55-inch-tall metal gun locker.

The bomb, Mr. Kelly said, “would have caused casualties, a significant fireball.”

The materials will be sent to the F.B.I. laboratory in Quantico, Va., on Monday for analysis, Mr. Kelly said in an interview Monday morning with WCBS Radio. “They’ve got the top laboratory in the world to do these sorts of examinations, and we’ll keep some samples here,” he said.

Detectives flew by helicopter to Pennsylvania to interview a tourist who shot video of the man leaving the S.U.V. “We have seen the video and we’re looking to put that out,” Mr. Kelly said. Asked if the video was important to the investigation, he said, “It depends on what other people see in that video. Not so much what we see.”

Had it exploded, said Mr. Browne, there was “a good possibility of people being killed, windows shattered, but not resulting in a building collapse.”

While the authorities said they were treating the failed bombing — described as a “one-off” by Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary — as a potential terrorist attack, they said there was no evidence of a continued threat to the city.

Additional patrols will be placed in Midtown, Mr. Kelly said, but no significant increase in the city’s police presence is planned. Detectives conducted what is known as a “24-hour canvas” on Sunday night and Monday morning, but Mr. Kelly did not divulge any new leads Monday morning. The police also planned to visit nearby businesses that were closed over the weekend to review footage from their cameras.

No motive had been determined in the attempted bombing, and federal and local officials said there was no evidence to support a claim of responsibility issued Sunday by a Pakistani Taliban group that has a reputation for making far-fetched attempts to take credit for attacks.

The police and F.B.I. officials are also investigating a separate tip received by a news organization, but Mr. Kelly said it had not turned up any suspects.

Investigators were reviewing surveillance footage that showed an unidentified man walking away from West 45th Street, where the Nissan Pathfinder had been parked. The police said the man was a “person of interest.” The man was seen in Shubert Alley, which runs between 44th and 45th Streets, looking furtively over his shoulder and removing a dark shirt, revealing a red one underneath, officials said. The man then stuffed the dark shirt into a bag, officials said.

Asked if he considered the failed bombing the work of terrorists, Mr. Kelly said: “A terrorist act doesn’t necessarily have to be conducted by an organization. An individual can do it on their own.”

Mr. Kelly held his briefing on Sunday as Times Square experienced an uneasy return to normalcy after a night of high drama that saw the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers. All Broadway shows ran as scheduled on Sunday, playing on streets where, just hours before, onlookers watched behind orange netting as a police bomb squad used a robot to break into the smoke-filled Pathfinder, which was discovered about 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Two street vendors had flagged down a mounted police officer after they noticed smoke coming from the Pathfinder, which had been parked haphazardly at the curb with its engine running and its flashers on. The area was cleared so the police could examine the vehicle, which was first seen on video surveillance cameras at 6:28 p.m., heading west on West 45th Street.

The Pathfinder was brought to a forensics center in Jamaica, Queens, where investigators were scouring it for DNA evidence and hairs, fibers and fingerprints. No fingerprints have yet been found, officials said, but analysis was in its early stages.

F.B.I. agents and detectives from the Joint Terrorist Task Force were also trying to determine where the three canisters of propane and two red plastic five-gallon containers of gasoline in the Pathfinder had been purchased.

The gun locker, which weighed about 75 pounds empty and upward of 200 pounds with the eight bags of fertilizer in it, could provide important clues because it can probably be more easily traced than many of the other items found in the S.U.V. “There are lots of different fertilizers that are out there,” Mr. Kelly said, emphasizing that this particular fertilizer did not appear to be explosive.

The weight of the locker and the material inside raised questions as to whether it might have required more than one person to load it into the vehicle.

Identifying the owner of the Pathfinder — an important development, according to one official — was achieved through the S.U.V.’s vehicle identification number, which had been stripped from the car’s dashboard but was stamped on other car parts, like the engine block and axle.

Initially, investigators believed that the last owner was in Texas and had donated the car to a charity in North Carolina, one official said. But that information proved to be incorrect.

The license plate on the S.U.V. was connected to a different vehicle that was awaiting repairs in Stratford, Conn., where F.B.I. agents and the local police awoke the owner of the repair shop at 3 a.m. Sunday.

The shop owner, Wayne LeBlanc, who runs Kramer’s Used Auto Parts, said the authorities had seized a black Ford F-150 pickup truck. “We’re trying to help them identify who took the plates,” he said.

The S.U.V. had no E-ZPass, but license plate readers and cameras at the area’s tollbooths were being checked to determine where the car had entered Manhattan, one official said.

Most of the ingredients of the explosive device could have been bought at a home-supply store. The canisters of propane were similar to those used for barbecue grills. The firecrackers were consumer-grade M-88s sold legally in some states, including Pennsylvania.

The device was found in the back of the S.U.V., Mr. Kelly said, with the gasoline cans closest to the back seat and the gun locker behind them. The fertilizer was in clear plastic bags bearing the logo of a store that the police declined to identify.

The wires from battery-powered fluorescent clocks ran into the gun locker, where a metal pressure-cooker pot contained a thicket of wires and more M-88s, Mr. Kelly said.

“The detonation device, it was believed that the timers would ignite the can of explosives, and that would cause the five-gallon cans to go on fire and then explode the propane tanks and have some effect on that rifle box,” Mr. Kelly said.

Investigators believed that the fuses on the firecrackers had been lighted, but they did not explode, officials said. The burning fuses apparently ignited a portion of the Pathfinder’s interior, causing a small fire that filled the inside with smoke, one law enforcement official said.

Another official said that pops heard by a firefighter as he approached the vehicle might have been made by the fireworks failing to fully detonate.

Investigators were reviewing similarities between the incident in Times Square and coordinated attacks in the summer of 2007 at a Glasgow airport and a London neighborhood of nightclubs and theaters. Both attacks involved cars containing propane and gasoline that did not explode. Those attacks, the authorities believed, had their roots in Iraq.

“You can find similarities among different attacks, but there is nothing that we have at this point that has established that link,” Mr. Browne said.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that “so far, there is no evidence that any of this has anything to do with one of the recognized terrorist organizations.”

Meanwhile, a Homeland Security official said that the Transportation Security Administration had increased security outside airports to counter threats like car bombs.

The agency held a conference call Sunday night with federal officials at airports in the New York City region to discuss increased security at departure gates.

The authorities said they are studying hundreds of hours of surveillance footage from 82 cameras mounted from 34th Street to 51st Street between Avenue of the Americas and Eighth Avenue, including images of the man leaving the scene of the S.U.V. that were shot by the tourist in Times Square. The police and F.B.I. officials were also investigating a 911 call placed around 4 a.m. Sunday that described the failed bombing as a diversion before a bigger explosion, two law enforcement officials said, although Mr. Kelly said there was no record of that call.

The S.U.V. was parked near the headquarters of Viacom, fueling suspicions that the attack was related to a controversy surrounding “South Park,” the Comedy Central cartoon program that recently censored an episode that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad. Viacom owns Comedy Central, and the police have not ruled out the connection.

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