Sara Whitman

Times Square Bombing: 100% Homegrown American?

Filed By Sara Whitman | May 03, 2010 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Oklahoma City, Pakistan, rightwing extremists, taliban, terrorism, terrorists, Times Square, Times Square bombing, Timoth McVeigh

An attempt at a car bombing was made Saturday night, in Times Square. Quickly, there have already been claims whispered of the Taliban sneaking about in our midst by the New York Times:

"No motive had been determined in the attempted bombing, and federal and local officials said there was no evidence to support a claim of responsibility issued Sunday by a Pakistani Taliban group that has a reputation for making far-fetched attempts to take credit for attacks."

A few paragraphs later, again a hint of outside terrorists:

"Investigators were reviewing similarities between the incident in Times Square and coordinated attacks in the summer of 2007 at a Glasgow airport and a London neighborhood of nightclubs and theaters. Both attacks involved cars containing propane and gasoline that did not explode. Those attacks, the authorities believed, had their roots in Iraq."

Um, call me crazy, but didn't Tim McVeigh use a car bomb in Oklahoma City? Wasn't that domestic terrorism? Crazy right wing nut cases who wanted to take over the government?

Homegrown? Nothing to do with Iraq or Iran or Pakistan?

Am I the only one who is making this very direct connection? Why does it feel like the media is pumping up a frenzy of hate against Middle Easterners?

The Teabaggers carry guns to their demonstrations. Guns. I have to say, I've been to many a demonstration in my time but never saw anyone- aside from the police- with a gun. The rhetoric has become increasingly more and more violent- people openly calling for the death of the President on facebook, for instance.

I'd bet having to take my pants off through airport security (god knows we are headed there anyway), that this is a 100% American effort.

We need to start looking at ourselves, at our media, and at the messages rained on us a little more closely. Who buys all those guns in this country? You know, the semi-automatics, machine guns- the stuff that no one in the world hunts deer or quail with.

There are a lot of angry, white people out there. White. Not black, not latino, but white people who are feeling their power erode away.

I sincerely hope the police, FBI and Homeland security are a lot smarter than the media. I also hope it was one warped lunatic who failed.

But something tells me, it's not.

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Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 3, 2010 8:35 PM

I agree with everything you said. Let's also acknowledge that this was strictly amateur hour. You see, there were at least two fatal flaws with this construct that has been referred to as a "bomb" by just about everybody and that's just in the sketchy descriptions that I've read.
First, containers or bottles like propane tanks Can't. Blow. Up. They are designed to exclude oxygen and despite what happens in the movies, no oxygen = no combustion. The containers can be punctured and their contents ignited upon contact with oxygen in the atmosphere, they can be heated to a point when the valve fails and releases the contents but neither failure is exactly explosive in nature. One can WELD on a bottle and as long as you don't puncture the vessel, it won't explode. I know because of science and experience. I've done it. Plus, if anybody gets the bright idea to force oxygen into a propane tank so that it will be combustible, then there will be one less would be terrorist that we have to worry about. It isn't a secret what happens when you introduce liquid oxygen into an environment of petroleum distillates.
Second, not all "fertilizer" is ammonium nitrate. I can buy a ton of Miracle Grow and not have anything remotely explosive. The fireworks and gasoline may have made a merry fire but nobody was ever in any real danger so while the intent was there, the knowledge was lacking.
It's possible to ignore science in fiction but it isn't possible to do so in reality and still achieve a desired result. This tendency to ignore science just screams Beck fan teabagger to me. I could be wrong of course but I don't think that I am.

I was in the military when the Murrah building was blown up by Timothy McVeigh.

Six months prior, I'd first heard of the 'unorganized militia' movement.

Two days after the bombing, I was in the workout room. A chickenhawk major walked in, mentioned the bombing, and suggested we needed to go and 'kick some towel-headed @$$' (his exact words.)

I asked him what if the terrorists were domestic? He didn't answer, appearing shaken by the implications of that question.

A day or two later, we heard on the news the FBI was looking for one or more Americans in connection with the bombing.

After that, the 'unorganized militia' calmed way down...

Angela Brightfeather | May 3, 2010 9:12 PM

Since when would any Taliban extemist use M-80's as an addition to a bomb?

The only people I know who know anything about M-80's are red blooded American or Canadian teenagers who like to blow up water closets in the gym bathroom, or kneejerk, American wing nuts who attend Tea Party conventions and demonstrations. Since I don't believe that it was any teenageer whopurchased the vehicle for cash, I can only think it is the latter animal who is trying to blow people up to make some kind of statement. I think the clincher for me though was when they reported that there was a gun locker in the car that was full of fertilizer. But the kind that does not blow up. Only someone who goes around asking for proof of Obama's birth certificate and calling people facists and nazi's is stupid enough to travel around NYC with a locker full of non-exploding shit. Even the Taliban aren't that dumb.

Given how this bomb appears to be designed so poorly that a simple internet search could have greatly improved it, I suspect that this was a more individual, less organized activity. This bomb didn't just not explode, it was designed so poorly that you probably would have had to have added some C4 just to get it to explode.

I do think though that the first quote is dismissing a claim of responsibility by this foreign group. 'there is no evidence that...' Though I will admit I have heard a lot of fearmongering about middle easterners, despite the fact that the suspect has been described as 'a middle aged white man'.

This just in: The owner of the Pathfinder was arrested at JFK attempting to flee the country. He was a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan living in Connecticut.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 4, 2010 1:45 AM

Now who gets invaded and occupied?

rapid butterfly | May 4, 2010 5:50 AM

Sara, I agree with your general point about our willingness, as a country, immediately to blame those who are "othered" even before the information is in. It is a good reminder independent of what investigation into this case does or doesn't reveal.

But I strongly disagree with the notion that owning guns not used for hunting is some indicia of being a would-be terrorist. Same for those who lawfully and peacefully carry them.

I think LGBT people, as with other marginalized groups, would be well served to learn to defend ourselves against assailants, and to equip ourselves to do the same. As those of us who have been assaulted know - a phone number doesn't help when you are being attacked.

So - while I, like you, disagree with the grandstanding tactics of many of these teabag rallies, and of course disagree with their politics, I don't find the genesis of my disagreement in their gun ownership, but in their politics - which politics are in most cases severable from the gun ownership.

More data needed.

I'm a sometime military analyst, and I'd give none of the current conjectures anything better than a "well, could be, I 'spose".

It does sound like amateur-hour Al Qaeda. I see RWNJ (Right Wing Nut Jobs) targeting Federal buildings, synagogues, mosques etc but not crowded city streets. The RWNJs may blow up kindergartens, but if so they'd be Gummint ones.

Exactly which kind of enemy we face doesn't matter. Just that they're the enemy, no matter which flag the plead allegiance too.

well, I guess next time through the airport, I'll be taking off my pants.

I'll be sure to post the time, place and date. perhaps wear my "eat it raw" boxers from key west.

I still think there was fear mongering in the times piece. But I was wrong about it being a RWNJ. (very true, Zoe, about the gov. buildings)


and as for arming ourselves... I guess I just don't get it. I have no interest in behind shot, nor shooting anyone. (mind you, I look forward to target shooting when visiting our Iowa relatives) I want good laws, and a lot of education being done to back them up.

rapid butterfly | May 4, 2010 10:11 AM

Sara, with all due respect, do you think that I or anyone else who has been assaulted had an "interest" in being assaulted? Or that those of us who want to be able to meet lethal force appropriately have an "interest" in shooting anyone?

Do you think there is anything in what I said that is incompatible with or inconsistent with your belief in "good laws" and education?

My point is that just as you have correctly pointed out that it is a mistake to assume, right away, that terror incidents must be the work of "foreigners" and "others," you commit an analogous mistake by suggesting that "guns....GUNS" are somehow an indicia of terrorist inclinations.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 4, 2010 8:17 AM

A Pakistani man has been arrested on an airplane preparing to take off. How much do you want to bet that he lost friends and/or relatives to the predator drone abomination that's ongoing there?

Color me a conspiracy theorist, but isn't this a wee bit convenient? Al Queda is responsible again? They were highly successful in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on 9/11. The first bomb attempt at the World Trade Center wasn't enough to bring the building down, but caused quite a bit of damage.

So they chose an idiot this time who'd leave behind all sorts of evidence, rig up a bomb incorrectly using MacGyver-like bits of flotsam and jetsom, and then promptly jumps a plane for Pakistan?

No way. I smell a chance to pump the Afghanistan war against Al Queda and their new base of power in Pakistan.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | May 4, 2010 9:31 AM

I dunno, Bil......yesterday I saw a clip of Rush Limbaugh pushing a conspiracy theory that radical leftist environmental whakos had exploded the BP oil rig in the Gulf to help defeat the Obama limited offshore drilling proposal.

Knee-jerk suspicion isn't all that useful, and sometime destructive.......ask Hispanic-Americans in Aritona.........sometimes it pays to let thing play out a bit, and Sara won't have to wear those boxers after all.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | May 4, 2010 9:33 AM

I dunno, Bil......yesterday I saw a clip of Rush Limbaugh pushing a conspiracy theory that radical leftist environmental whakos had exploded the BP oil rig in the Gulf to help defeat the Obama limited offshore drilling proposal.

Knee-jerk suspicion isn't all that useful, and sometime destructive.......ask Hispanic-Americans in Aritona.........sometimes it pays to let thing play out a bit, and Sara won't have to wear those boxers after all.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | May 4, 2010 9:37 AM

Make that "Arizona", not "Aritona". I was thinking of your colleage who runs the Huffington Post.

Rush is wrong. We all know that Teabagging Minutemen blew up the BP right because it is an illegal alien rig, and it is BRITISH whoch means SOCIALIST; it would have been a springboard to launch an assualt upon American values via National Health Care, carbon tax and trade, and same sex marriage.

I agree with Bil here, and I don't think that what he's suggesting is at all the same as Rush Limbaugh's wacko theory about oil spills.

Regardless of what the facts around Faisal Shahzad turn out to be, I think it's always worth being cautious about the theories thrown out to by officials. And it's always interesting to me that our suspicions about official stories are cast as "conspiracy theories" but official lies (remember the NYT's "reporting" on WMDs via Judith Miller?) are somehow infallible proof.

It's not a conspiracy theory to suggest that, sometimes, things just fall a little too conveniently in place. For instance, whenever I read about "confessions" of Al-Quaeda members in Pakistan, I'm reminded of the fact that such admissions/speculations of guilt are all too easily brought about in a region where life is cheap and people can be captured and disappeared without anyone in their communities noticing or being able to protest. The same is true, by the way, of immigrant communities in the U.S, which have seen entire groups of people disappeared by ICE, but that's for another post.

Shahzad's profile may not be the same as that of a poor and invisible Pakistani man caught in the web of global machinations but I, for one, think it's never harmful to be sceptical and watchful about the official stories spun by the media and the powers that be.

And kudos to Sara for being brave enough to at least express scepticism. We're better off with that than the opposite, which is the rush to judgement which those of us who look "Pakistani" have suffered from for a long time.

diddlygrl | May 4, 2010 10:12 AM

I would agree with the supposition that this was a ameteur attempt to avenge lost relatives or friends due to the muck up in Afghanistan/Pakistan

An Al/Quaida bomb would have gone boom and would have been more effective. The non explosive fertilizer marks a novices attempt to join the big leagues.

Close doesn't count in bomb making.


For many of you, your apparent wishful thinking didn't pay off.

This is the second high profile fiasco failure for Al Queda in a short period of time, beginning with the underwear bomber, whose bomb would have only killed him and the person next ti him and would not have penetrated the skin of the plane

Perhaps it ought to stop recruiting ambitions amateurs

Perhaps it ought to stop recruiting ambitions amateurs
Actually, I prefer them to continue doing that, rather than training professionals.