‘Obvious act of terrorism’: Authorities hesitant to link NYC, NJ bombings despite similarities
A massive investigation is underway looking for possible links between the five improvised explosive devices (IED) that were discovered in New York City and those in New Jersey.
Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI, William Sweeney told reporters on Sunday that an FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Taskforce, comprised of over 50 agencies, is analyzing evidence to see if all or any of the crime scenes are connected. The Department of Homeland Security is also actively monitoring and participating in the investigations.
Two bombs exploded in NJ and NYC on Saturday. Initially, an explosion in a garbage container near a Marine Corps charity run in New Jersey took place at around 9:30am local time. No injuries were reported but the partial blast delayed the start of the race in which more than 5,000 runners participated. Later, investigators in New Jersey discovered three pipe-bomb-type devices wired together near the boardwalk.
In the evening, across the Hudson River, a second bomb exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, at around 8:30pm (local time), injuring 29 people, all of whom have been released from the hospital after receiving medical treatment. The blast in front of 135 W. 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh avenues was called “an act of terrorism” by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
On Sunday, the NYPD commissioner confirmed to reporters that the investigation had discovered “some component indicative of an IED.”
“We definitely had a bombing last night on 23rd Street and we had a suspicious device on 27th Street,” James O’Neill said.
As emergency and investigative teams rushed to the scene of the explosion, New York State police troopers discovered a second “suspicious secondary device” a few blocks away.
A pressure cooker with dark-colored wiring had been connected by silver duct tape to a cellphone was safely removed from West 27th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues by the NYPD Bomb Squad.
Three devices found in New Jersey and two in New York used old-fashioned flip cell phones as detonators, law enforcement officials close to the investigation told NBC 4, New York. But despite the similarities in the IEDs, officials have been cautious to connect the crime scenes.
“At this point, we do not have any specific evidence of a connection, but that will continue to be considered. So we’re not taking any options off the table,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Sunday.
Commenting on the blast in Chelsea, de Blasio said that authorities are looking into possible motives for the explosion before establishing any connections.
“Now we know from everything we’ve seen so far that this was an intentional act. I want to reaffirm what I said last night, but again we do not know the motivation, we do not know the nature of it,” the mayor said. “We only know it was organized. We know it was organized in the sense of some individual put it there.”
Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill meanwhile said that the investigation has recovered videos from both scenes as authorities continue “to canvass for witnesses and additional video.” He added that a parallel investigation is ongoing between the NYPD, the JTTF, and the FBI.
While acknowledging that there is no “immediate threat” to New York, Cuomo, speaking to reporters earlier on Sunday said that “on the side of caution, we will be deploying close to 1,000 state police and National Guard people to police the bus terminals, airports, and subway stations.”
Cuomo added that “a bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism” and vowed to find those responsible. So far no domestic or international group has claimed the responsibility for either NJ or NYC attacks.
Update from the NYPD: About an hour ago, the FBI took several individuals into custody on the… https://t.co/81Sec7JoUu— Senator Marty Golden (@SenMartyGolden) September 19, 2016
According to Marty Golden, New York State Senator, the FBI "took several individuals into custody" who had a possible connection to the bombing.