No Taliban link to NYC bomb: police

There is no evidence of a Taliban link to a failed bomb found in a sport utility vehicle parked in Times Square, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday.

Crude device fails to detonate in Times Square

In this image taken from video, a police officer examines the SUV early Sunday. ((APTV/Associated Press))
There is no evidence of a Taliban link to a failed bomb found in a sport utility vehicle parked in Times Square, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Sunday.

Kelly said officers were on their way to a town in Pennsylvania to talk to a tourist who may have recorded a bombing suspect on his video camera.

The commissioner said the possible suspect, a man in his 40s, was captured on security camera video in the area as he took off a dark shirt to reveal a red T-shirt underneath. He said police may be able to release that video in the coming days.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, a statement on an Islamist website said Sunday.

The statement said the plot to detonate the explosives early Saturday evening was to avenge the killing of "Muslim martyrs."

The speaker mentions U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas that target Taliban leaders hiding there and the "abduction, torture and humiliation" of Aaria Siddiqui.

Street vendor Duane Jackson, who looked inside the suspicious vehicle before police arrived, talks to reporters on Sunday. ((Seth Wenig/The Associated Press))

Investigators disarmed what the mayor described as an "amateurish" but potentially powerful bomb in the SUV after a T-shirt vendor saw smoke coming from the vehicle on 45th Street and alerted police. 

Heavily armed police began to evacuate the area around 6:30 p.m. ET and zoomed in on the Nissan Pathfinder, which had its engine running and hazard lights flashing.

Investigators removed three propane tanks, fireworks, two full 19-litre gasoline containers and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components from the vehicle, Kelly said.

According to police, the licence plates on the Nissan came from another vehicle in a junkyard.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, appearing Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, said investigators have also recovered fingerprints.

She said officials were treating the incident as a potential terror attack.

Napolitano said there are a number of surveillance cameras in the area and they could yield valuable video.

"We avoided what could have been a very deadly event," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "It certainly could have exploded and had a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact."

Bloomberg called the explosive device "amateurish" and Kelly said the explosives were consumer-grade fireworks but could have caused huge damage on a block of Broadway theatres and restaurants teeming with tourists.

"I think the intent was to cause a significant ball of fire," Kelly said.

The bomb appeared to be starting to detonate but malfunctioned, top police spokesman Paul Browne told The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Bloomberg said the city was "very lucky."

With files from The Associated Press