May 02, 2010

Possible Fuel-Air Explosive Terrorist Attack In Times Square Goes Awry

I'm just getting up to speed on the news of a failed terrorist attack in New York City' Times Square, where authorities responded to the scene of a smoking vehicle after calls about an explosion, and found the bomb:

Police officers from the emergency service unit and firefighters flooded the area and were troubled by the hazard lights and running engine, and by the fact that the S.U.V. was oddly angled in the street. At this point, a firefighter from Ladder 4 reported hearing several "pops" from within the vehicle. The police also learned that the Pathfinder had the wrong license plates on it.

Members of the Police Department’s bomb squad donned protective gear, broke the Pathfinder's back windows and sent in a "robotic device" to "observe" it, said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the police department's chief spokesman.

Inside, they discovered three canisters of propane like those used for barbecue grills, two five-gallon cans of gasoline, consumer-grade fireworks — the apparent source of the "pops" — and two clocks with batteries, the mayor said. He said the device "looked amateurish."

Mr. Browne said: "It appeared it was in the process of detonating, but it malfunctioned."

I'm going to disagree with the Deputy Commissioner, and suggest there is nothing amatuerish about this bomb. I agree with Allahpundit that appears the 3 bulk propane tanks and 10 gallons of gas were to be the explosives in a fuel-air explosive, one of the deadliest weapons in modern warfare. While not as polished as those used by mlitary forces (including our own), the explosive power of these devices in IED form are fierce, as a burster charge spreads a flammable cloud of fuel, that is then detonated by a secondary charge to form a massive overpressure wave that is extremely lethal.

This particular device seems to have failed because the bomb builder simply got his chemistry slightly askew, and had the fuel air mix inside the vehicle too low (which I somewhat doubt), or more likely, had too much fuel in the cabin of the vehicle so that the potential bomb didn't have the air it needed to breath and detonate properly. If the fireworks had ignited when the fuel-air mixture was optimum, we'd be reading a story of carnage this morning like those we've seen in Iraq, with hundreds dead.

They need to find the individual terrorist or terrorist group behind this and fast, because odds are that they now know exactly what they did wrong with this bomb, and they are not likley to make the same mistake again.

Update: South Park related? The evidence is thin, but it isn't entirely unreasonable.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 2, 2010 08:35 AM

The Global War on Terror: the entire world vs. 45% of the citizens of the United States. The eventual outcome is foreordained.

Posted by: Jim at May 2, 2010 08:49 AM

Nah, this was obviously just some rich old white racist-dude's attempt to convert his car to run on propane that went aray. He probably just stepped out of it to buy a paper or something... That'll no doubt be the conclusion of the fbies(preconceived as always for these sort of "situations").

Posted by: emdfl at May 2, 2010 08:50 AM

My guess is right-wing extremist, McVeigh types. Diverse, cosmopolitan New York is an natural target. I think if there were Islamic terrorists in this country who wanted to carry out an attack they would have done so already. All it would take is a few easily purchased AKM's or AR-15's and a crowded mall.

Posted by: Will Butler at May 2, 2010 09:06 AM

Muslims? We don't see no Muslims. Must have been a teabagger.

Posted by: zhombre at May 2, 2010 10:34 AM

As Yoda says "amateur it's not; stupid he is!" Just because it failed to detonate doesn't mean it's amateurish. Anyone with an ounce of common sense would understand terrorists are always trying to find methods to build wmd's.

Posted by: nobody at May 2, 2010 02:23 PM