Friday, March 7, 2008

Explosion in Times Square investigation continues

Interesting, there may be an over the border connection to the New York Times Square bombing.

No fooling, Congress re-instate the lapsed surveillance bill.

Canadian Border Incident, Photos Part Of Times Square Investigation
By Jonathan Dienst, Joe Valiquette and Alice McQuillan

NEW YORK -- Nearly a full day after the explosion in Times Square, law enforcement officials said they had no suspects.

Four men trying to cross the border attempted to flee the checkpoint as Canadian officials tried to question them, investigators said.

Two of the men got away, officials said. The men left behind a backpack with photos of various New York City locations including Times Square, according to sources speaking on condition of anonymity. One of the photos included the military recruitment center, officials said.

As a precaution, NYPD outreach officers last month went to various New York City businesses, including the Times Square military recruitment center, to investigate if there had been any specific threats. No threat information was known at the time, a law enforcement source said.
But after Thursday morning’s explosion, FBI, NYPD and Homeland Security officials are reaching out to Canadian authorities to try to learn more about the men who were at the border crossing last month.

One law enforcement official described two of the men are believed to be "anarchist-types." He stressed as of now there is nothing to link the men to Thursday's explosion. But it is a prudent to follow this possible lead, he said.

This as numerous letters arrived at Capitol Hill offices Thursday. Investigators said the letters included a picture of a man standing with his arms wide apart in front of the Armed Forces Recruiting Station stating "Happy New Year, We Did It." These letters were mailed before the explosion prompting initial concern there might be a possible connection or claim of responsibility.

Law enforcement officials said they are downplaying the possibility that the man named in the letter is connected to Thursday morning's blast. They said the letter, which included a somewhat lengthy anti-war manifesto, was signed. Officials stressed no suspect has been named and no one is in custody at this time.

Capitol Police said they were investigating and put out a statement late Thursday, "The U.S. Capitol Police & the FBI are working together to investigate letters received by various Members of Congress. There is no established connection between these letters and the NYC Times Square incident this morning. The investigation is ongoing...more details as they become available."

New York law enforcement officials said they have no information that the letters are linked to the Times Square explosion at this time.

The small bomb caused minor damage to the New York military recruiting station before dawn Thursday and police were searching for a hooded bicyclist seen on a surveillance video peddling away.

Times Square was shut down as police looked for a suspect, who was possibly riding a bicycle. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said officers have recovered a bicycle from the trash on 38th Street while searching the area. The bike was in good shape, Kelly said.

The blast appears to have been caused by a small, powdered device that shattered the glass facade of the recruiting station. Sources tell WNBC that the expolsive powder is believed to be low grade and not very sophisticated.

The FBI and NYPD have launched a joint investigation into the incident and are examining evidence collected at the scene.

Law enforcement officials are looking into whether the bomber is the same person who threw explosive devices at the British and Mexican Consulates in the early morning hours in the past couple of years.

Kelly said a witness told police he saw a person riding a bicycle and acting suspiciously around the time of Thursday's blast.

“The individual (on the bicycle) was wearing a hood and dark colored clothing, also carrying a backpack. He did not see the individual’s face,” Kelly said. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the bomber will be found and prosecuted “to the full extent of the law.” “Whoever the coward was that committed this disgraceful act on our city will be found," said Bloomberg. "We will not tolerate such attacks."

Traffic was shut down along Broadway and 7th Avenues as well as several streets in the West 40s. Subway service along the 1,2,3,N,Q,R,W and shuttle had been skipping Time Square stops as the investigation continues through about 6 am but has since resumed service MTA officials said.

Kelly said police are still uncertain whether the incident is linked to two previous bombings in the past three years.

In October, witnesses told police they saw a man on a bicycle throwing a small black powdered device at the Mexican Consulate in Midtown. In May 2005, a similar incident also occurred at the British Consulate building. No one was hurt in either of those two incidents.

"In 2005, 2007, dummy hand grenades were used and the explosive, black powder, was put into those grenades and that caused the explosion," Kelly said. "Here, it may be similar powder -- we still have to determine that. But it was placed in an ammunition box. That was the carrier for the explosive. There was no grenade."

John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president and a former Navy lieutenant commander, called the Times Square explosion "unacceptable."
"We cannot allow this to happen to the men and women serving in our military whether they are at home or abroad," McCain said.

New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said "federal, state, and city authorities should be given every resource and every tool to swiftly complete that investigation."