Police search for terrorism link in New York blast that injured 29

New York City firefighters stand near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York
New York City firefighters stand near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York September 17, 2016. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi

September 18, 2016

By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investigators on Sunday sifted through blast remnants, examined video and scoured the scene of an explosion that wounded 29 people in Manhattan, attempting to establish if there were any links to international terrorism.

The explosion on a commercial and residential street in New York City’s Chelsea district on Saturday night sent a deafening roar and a powerful shock wave through several blocks, wounding people with shrapnel and flying glass. All 29 victims were released from the hospital, officials said on Sunday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio pleaded for any witnesses to provide tips and promised a security presence that would be “bigger than ever” for the United Nations General Assembly bringing together world leaders in Manhattan for six days starting on Tuesday.

With so little known about the attack, officials said they would deploy an additional 1,000 state police and National Guard to sensitive areas such as transportation hubs.

Federal Bureau of Investigation investigators will examine remnants of the bomb plus an unexploded device found four blocks away as well as a pipe bomb that exploded about 80 miles (130 km) away in New Jersey on Saturday to see if they were connected, officials said.

Police recovered video from both scenes in Manhattan including images of the explosion itself, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

New York police, the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives converged on the site for their first daylight view of the site of the explosion, cordoning it off and placing dozens of evidence markers on the ground. Police closed several surrounding blocks to traffic.

“We are in the middle of a very complex post-blast investigation,” O’Neill said.

Although no international group had claimed responsibility, New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said detonating a bomb in New York City “is obviously an act of terrorism.”

But the mayor resisted on Sunday when reporters pressed him to call the blast an act of terrorism, saying investigators had yet to determine if there was a political motivation. There were no obvious political targets on the block.

“It was intentional. It was a violent act. It was a certainly a criminal act. It was a bombing. That’s what we know,” said de Blasio, flanked by high-ranking officials of the FBI and the city police and fire departments.

“It could have been something personally motivated. We don’t know yet,” de Blasio said.

MINNESOTA ATTACK

The blast happened the same day as a knife attack at a mall in central Minnesota when a man wounded nine people before he was shot to death by an off-duty police officer. The assailant was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” the militant group said on Sunday.

In a statement on Sunday, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said: “I strongly condemn the apparent terrorist attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.”

Her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, referring to the Manhattan blast, said on Saturday: “We better get very tough, folks.”

The mayor and the governor both promised that New Yorkers would not be cowed and that apart from the street closures, life would continue as normal. New Yorkers who endured the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 and devastating Superstorm Sandy in 2012 said they were generally unperturbed.

A sweep of the neighborhood following the blast turned up another device four blocks away consisting of a pressure cooker with wires attached to it and connected to a cell phone.

Pressure cooker bombs were used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

The New Jersey explosion came from a pipe bomb, officials said. A U.S. official familiar with information circulating inside the government said the motive remained unknown and insufficient evidence had been gathered to link the two New York bombs. There was no evidence to connect them to the New Jersey blast, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Almost anybody could have fabricated these bombs and used cellphones as timed detonators,” said another U.S. official familiar with the inquiry. “There are instructions all over the internet, and the crudity, positioning, and relative ineffectiveness of these does not suggest that a more sophisticated group played any role in this.”

The FBI would examine all three devices at its special crime laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, Cuomo said, but city officials said the police bomb squad still had possession of the unexploded device as of midday on Sunday.

(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, John Walcott, Rashid Umar Abbasi, Mauricio Ramirez and Alana Wise; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney)

  • Zrayz10

    What about the fact that somebody claiming to be the New York bomber has a tumblr page saying why they did it? What about the fact Hillary Clinton claimed it was a bombing and then her people turned around and criticized Trump for saying the exact same thing less than 40 seconds later. What about the fact the media hacks supporting Clinton turned around and edited out the fact she had said it was a bombing? People need to know these things.

    The alleged bomber’s tumblr page:
    http://nybomber.tumblr.com/

    • mick

      Will you stop letting people bother you so much.

      • Zrayz10

        Excuse you? Are you my mother? No? Did someone die and give you the right to tell others how they should feel? No? Then butt out! Unless you have something constructive to add to the conversation or at the very least something in the way of condolences toward the victims your opinion is worth jack to me. My emotions are my own and I have a right to feel and express them. I live here in NY, excuse me if I get upset when some crazy lefty sets off a bomb in my backyard!

        • mick

          Thought it was about msm.

  • toughluck2

    If it causes fear and terror it is BY DEFINITION terrorism.
    They should say ‘no links to Islamic terrorism have yet been found’

  • No Mas

    RIP for Americans injured due to inept Federal Government and White House anti American policy.

    National Security would demand you care for Americans first… Liberals and radical ISLAM DO NOT ASSIMILATE TO US CONSTITUTION.

  • AtomicFury

    Just think people, our so-called “progressive” President has avoided the issue of improving our national security. Come November, Hillary Clinton will begin to make the mistakes we all know are coming, thus making him seem like he’s in Donald Trump’s camp.

  • sanman99

    I live in fear with Obama as leader knowing he does NOTHING to protect
    America, I feel real sorry for New York Deblabbio compounds this
    dramatically!!!!

  • sleepy58

    coming to a city near you. We should get used too these homemade bombs and vests the way our country is turning

    • sanman99

      Thank a democrat!!!

  • All American

    Prayers for the citizens of NYC.
    I think everyone would like to know why Homeland Security, the FBI or any protective Federal agency was not aware before this event occurred? If we all performed our job like Jeh Johnson and Comey we would have been fired long ago. So they do forensics and locate the perpetrators but why are they not aware beforehand? What a mess!!
    Our government created this exposure by rewarding illegal aliens for breaking the laws of our land. As if that was not enough they import radical muslims who do not believe in American values and do not asscemilate.
    Thanks Mr Obama!
    The BIG QUESTION IS “What is our governments plan to ensure the safety of America?”

  • Misty Swenson

    So sad. Our prayers for the people of New York and New Jersey.

    • mick

      Never mind new york and joisey,…pray for isis. There is lots of time to make this their problemo!

  • David Patrick Murphy

    Great….The next attack will be on the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind?