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Claim: Taliban involved in NYC bomb scare; No evidence of larger plot

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Sunday, May 2, 2010 14:28 EDT
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UPDATED 5:21 p.m. EST: Police say failed NYC car bomber may be white male in his 40s, allegedly caught on tape

UPDATED 2:58 p.m. EST: Pakistan denies claim

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told ABC’s Jake Tapper this morning that authorities had not found any evidence that the bomb scare in New York City on Saturday May 1 was part of a larger plot.

“We have no evidence right now that this is anything other than a one off,” said Napolitano.

The federal government is treating the incident in Times Square as a potential terrorist attack. The FBI is also reportedly involved in the investigation.

The Economist and other news outlets are reporting a Taliban-affiliated bomb maker has claimed credit for the attempt.

According to The Long War Journal, Qari Hussain Meh, a member of the Pakistani Taliban is behind the scare.

Qari Hussain made the claim on an audiotape accompanied by images that was released on a YouTube website that calls itself the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel.

The tape has yet to be verified, but US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal believe it is legitimate. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel on YouTube was created on April 30. Officials believe it was created to announce the Times Square attack, and Qari Hussain’s statement was pre-recorded.

An image from the YouTube site is below.

Pakistan was quick to deny the claim.

“There is no credible way to prove that the Taliban have this kind of capacity to attempt such an attack in the heart of the United States,” a Pakistani intelligence told CBS News on condition of anonymity.

“A claim is far easier to make than to be carried out in real life,” he added.

According to an article about clues by CNN, inside the Nissan Pathfinder, police found “gas cans and bomb-making materials,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Investigators removed three propane tanks, two filled five-gallon gasoline containers, two clocks with batteries, consumer-grade fireworks, and a locked metal box that resembled a gun locker.

WCBS TV reports that the NYPD is still checking surveillance tapes.

“We’re in the process of identifying additional cameras which may have captured images of the vehicle and more important, people seen driving or leaving the vehicle,” said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Reuters spoke to a security expert who pointed to similarities between the attempted attack in Times Square and another in London in 2007.

The London attack “included a vehicle abandoned in a crowded area with the intent of causing mass casualties,” said Sajjan Gohel, director for international security at the London-based research company Asia Pacific Foundation.

“Was this done by an established group or, as in the London case, by self-radicalized people?” Gohel said, adding security camera footage could be the key. “Are the investigators in the U.S. able to quickly develop a logistical trail?”

Law enforcement officials are interested in a Connecticut auto parts store in particular. According to the NY Daily News, “they also have lifted some fingerprints from the vehicle and traced its stolen Connecticut license plate to a junkyard called Kramer’s Used Auto Parts in Stratford, Conn.”

According to Associated Press reports, Connecticut license plates on the vehicle did not match up, and police had interviewed the Connecticut car owner, who told them he had sent the plates to a nearby junkyard

This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast May 2, 2010.

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