Monday, May 3, 2010

Times Square incident is a little bit like an Alfred Hitchcock mystery film

The investigation of the attempted explosion in Times Square Saturday seems to get more bizarre, with stories about the mark van having been bought without paperwork in Connecticut; supposedly that's easy to do now. The latest CNN story is here. There seems to be a trail of camera photos both around Times Square and in CT worthy of the ABC show “Flash Forward”.

What seems interesting, or disturbing, is the ambiguity of the evidence so far. It seems like a “lone wolf” operation, possibly abetted by information from jihadist websites, except that some of the same information could probably be found in public libraries in print. There are stories, without much credibility, of Taliban groups claiming responsibility, which makes little sense since the Taliban is a local religious theocratic group, not a international combatant organization like Al Qaeda.

I had just made a one day train trip to Manhattan April 15, but was only in lower Manhattan and around the Yankee Stadium area. But I recall how Times Square had changed, to look Disney-like, when I was in the area in October 2001 (I didn’t get there for my 2004 visit either). I lived in NYC in the Village from 1974-1978.

There's no evidence that the crime used anything but "ordinary" explosives, but it's too easy to imagine a radiological dispersion device.

The incident started when a T-shirt vendor told police of his observation. "See something, say something."

Larry King Live will examine the issue of identifying the supposed suspects on CNN on Monday May 3.

Wikipedia attribution link for Times Square.

Update: May 4

MSNBC reports "Times Square bomb suspect nabbed at airport: Pakistani-born U.S. citizen was attempting to fly to Dubai from JFK", link here.

More reports came in all day May 4, indicating extensive ties for this amateur Faisal Shahzad, to Taliban or Al Qaeda groups (it's not totally clear which yet) in Pakistan, where there were more arrests. It seems that radical Islamist elements overseas may be looking for "lone wolf" type of people and working on softer targets; that seem to be a theme of the day long media coverage on both CNN and MSNBC. Some government officials at the press briefings mention the Fox show "24" in measuring the time it took to make the arrest, and also called the Times Square van a "Hurt Locker" after the Oscar-winning film.

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