Man Arrested in New York Failed Car Bomb: Source

By Tom Hays and Colleen Long for The Associated Press

A suspect in last weekend’s failed car bomb attack on Times Square was taken into custody late Monday while trying to leave the country, a law enforcement official said.

The suspect, a Pakistani, was identified at midnight Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was stopped, said the official, who spoke to The Associated Press early Tuesday on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The suspect has not been named. He was being held in New York.

Law enforcement officials say the suspect recently returned from a trip to Pakistan and bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder used in the failed car bomb three weeks ago and paid cash. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.

The SUV was rigged with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb. It had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a 16-ounce can filled with fireworks. Police said the bomb could have produced “a significant fireball” and sprayed shrapnel with enough force to kill pedestrians and knock out windows. The SUV was parked on a street lined with Broadway theaters and restaurants and full of people out on a Saturday night.

The SUV was captured on video crossing an intersection at 6:28 p.m. Saturday. A vendor pointed out the Pathfinder to an officer about two minutes later. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, was shut down for 10 hours. No one was hurt. New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne confirmed Monday that investigators had spoken to the SUV’s registered owner.

The vehicle identification number had been removed from Pathfinder’s dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine and axle, and investigators used it to find the owner of record. “The discovery of the VIN on the engine block was pivotal in that it led to the identifying the registered owner,” Browne said. “It continues to pay dividends.”

Investigators tracked the license plates to a used auto parts shop in Stratford, Conn., where they discovered the plates were connected to a different vehicle. They also spoke to the owner of an auto sales shop in nearby Bridgeport because a sticker on the Pathfinder indicated the SUV had been sold by his dealership. Owner Tom Manis said there was no match between the identification number the officers showed him and any vehicle he sold.

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