'Times Square Bomb Could Have Killed Thousands'

New York
'Times Square Bomb Could Have Killed Thousands'
Had the '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."
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