Since the Boston Marathon terror attack, there has been speculation that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may have had their sights set on additional targets outside of the Boston area. After law enforcement officials told media outlets that the brothers considered bombing New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that the duo also planned an attack on Times Square.
Dzhokhar, 19, reportedly initially told authorities that he and Tamerlan were planning to head to NYC to party in the wake of the Boston carnage, however, upon further questioning, his story soon changed. Senior law enforcement officials told NBC News earlier today that the surviving brother later added that the brothers considered detonating additional bombs in Times Square, a heavily-populated tourist tub.
NBC also reported that the man whose car was purportedly hijacked by the brothers told authorities that he heard one of them mention “Manhattan” before escaping, but it is unclear whether this was an accurate account or what the outlet calls “a language mixup.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters earlier this week that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has images of Dzhokhar in Times Square with four other individuals, but it is unclear what was shown or whether the visit was tied to terrorism, NBC adds (later, Kelly said that there were potentially two visits).
Rather than a fully-developed plan, the New York plot was apparently cursory at best, being described by officials as “aspirational at most.” Still, it shows the lengths to which the brothers were allegedly considering taking their terror plans. And regardless of how well-thought out it was, the resources and will to do it were certainly in place.
During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Bloomberg confirmed that an interrogation did yield information about a New York City target. Commissioner Kelly noted that the brothers had built six improvised explosives that could have been used in an attack on Times Square — one pressure cooker bomb and five pipe bombs (in addition to what was used in the initial Boston bombings).
“The terrorists were stopped before they could carry out further attacks,” Bloomberg said, thanking authorities for their efforts.
The mayor went on to praise surveillance cameras and other security measures that he said were key to catching the suspects — and he called upon the federal government to continue funding anti-terror efforts in cities that are considered high risk.
Commissioner Kelly also confirmed that Dzhokhar did first mention partying as a reason for potentially going to New York City, but later he said that the brothers decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target; this account is similar to the NBC News report. The brothers apparently discussed a New York attack while driving in the SUV they hijacked last Thursday.
“That plan, however, fell apart when they realized that the vehicle that they hijacked was low on gas,” said Commissioner Kelly.
After they stopped at a gas station, the situation intensified and a shooting with police — the event that led to Tamerlan’s death — followed.
The government, invoking a “public safety exemption,” had controversially decided to withhold Miranda rights in place of retrieving the aforementioned information. In an earlier report today, TheBlaze noted that Dzhokhar was reportedly read his rights and has now become silent following 16 hours of questioning from the FBI.
Fox News’ Megyn Kelly told viewers early on Thursday that the decision to read the alleged terrorist his rights purportedly shocked FBI officials. TheBlaze’s Jon Seidl reported that sources told Kelly that they expected to have more time with Dzhokhar before his rights were read to him.
“It’s really unbelievable. The FBI had no idea they were sending over the judge, the prosecutor, the federal public defender; and the FBI said they were only 16 hours into what they understood would be a 48 hour period of questioning,” said Megyn Kelly.
“They said they were in the process of getting valuable information … and as soon as that magistrate judge went in there and gave him his rights with his lawyer present, he stopped talking. They said they would never have stopped interrogating him prior to the 48 hours unless they were forced to,” she added.
According to Megyn Kelly’s sources, the decision to cut the interview time short could impact national security, especially considering claims that the alleged bomber was immediately silent after being read his rights.
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