`Times Square bomb could have killed thousands`

Had Pakistani-American terrorist Faisal Shahzad built the Times Square device the way he had intended to, the result would have been the deadliest terror attack in the US since 9/11 which could have killed "thousands of people."

Last Updated: Jul 21, 2010, 19:25 PM IST

New York: Had a `radicalised` Pakistani-
American terrorist Faisal Shahzad built the Times Square
device the way he had intended to, the result would have been
the deadliest terror attack in the US since 9/11 which could
have killed "thousands of people."

A secret FBI test of a correctly made version of the
May 1 Times Square bomb revealed that it would have killed
"thousands of people" if it had been made to explode as
terrorists had intended, law-enforcement officials were quoted
as saying by The New York Post.
"Had he built the Times Square device the way he had
originally intended to, terrorist Faisal Shahzad, would have
turned his SUV and nearby vehicles into a fatal spray of
razor-sharp fragments and transformed building windows into
glass guillotines hurtling to the streets, cutting down
hundreds of people walking by," the paper said.

The results were discovered after authorities composed
the type of bomb Shahzad set out to make -- with the exact
components he had initially intended to use -- and exploded it
in Pennsylvania last month.

At the end of June, the FBI built its replica of the
bomb and exploded it outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to test
its destructive force, the paper quoted sources as saying.

The results of the explosive test were sobering --
showing that 30-year-old Shahzad, son of a retired Pakistani
Air Vice Marshal, was on track to becoming the biggest
individual mass murderer in US history.

"It would have been the biggest thing ever to happen
in this country since Sept. 11," the paper said.
"It definitely would have been bigger than (the 1995)
Oklahoma City" bombing of the federal building that
killed 168 people, it quoted source as saying. "There would
have been a lot of casualties."

Shahzad`s homemade bomb -- on which he substituted
less effective, cheaper components for the more expensive and
deadly components he had planned to use -- was left in the
back seat of his parked Sports Utility Vehicle in the middle
of Times Square, where it smoldered but failed to detonate.

Street vendors noticed the smoke and alerted police.
The cops quickly evacuated the tourist-packed area as they
dismantled the device.

Shahzad was captured as he tried to flee the US and had
been cooperating with authorities, giving them insight into
his training by the Pakistani Taliban.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to federal terrorism
charges, saying he wanted to attack America in retaliation for
US military killings of Muslims abroad.

Meanwhile, New York`s police commissioner Ray Kelly said
that Shahzad used inferior explosives to avoid
detection.

"He tried to lessen the explosive nature of the
fertilizer that was used because he thought he would get a
higher profile as he went to buy it," Kelly said at the Centre
for National Policy, a Washington-based think-tank.

A key question in the early stages of the investigation
had been how a trained terrorist could craft such a poorly-
made bomb, consisting of weak fireworks, propane tanks and
non-explosive fertilizer.
Shahzad also used M-88 fireworks that were much weaker
than other alternatives, Kelly was quoted as saying by The
Wall Street Journal.

While Shahzad`s decision to buy weaker components marks
a kind of victory for counter-terrorism authorities, the case
also highlights how difficult it is to spot terror suspects in
the US.

"Shahzad is particularly of concern, that type of
individual. He is striving to be middle-class, he becomes a
US citizen," Kelly said.

"If you look back, he did some radical things, said
some very radical things," Kelly said. "But nobody was looking
at Shahzad."

PTI