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Times Square Recruiting Station Bombed

An Armed Forces Recruiting Station in New York’s Times Square was hit with an improvised explosive at 3:45 this morning.

Times Square Recruiting Station Bombed Photo Police officers, one of them in a hazardous-materials suit, examined the military recruiting station in Times Square after an explosion damaged the front of the building early Thursday morning. (Photo: Chip East/Reuters)

Investigation is still underway but, as of this writing,

The police have attributed the blast to an improvised explosive device, and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the device had been placed in an ammunition box like the kind that can be bought at a military supply store. Mr. Kelly spoke with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at a news conference at 9:30 a.m. in Times Square. The authorities are looking into a possible connection to two earlier bombings at foreign consulates in Manhattan, in 2005 and 2007. Officials said that in today’s attack, a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt was seen leaving the scene on a bicycle. Subways and traffic are running normally through Times Square.

Terrorism is, of course, a concern.

The Department of Homeland Security said it was examining whether there was a terrorism link to the explosion.

“If it is something that’s directed toward American troops then it’s something that’s taken very seriously and is pretty unfortunate,” said Army Capt. Charlie Jaquillard, who is the commander of Army recruiting in Manhattan. He said no one was inside the station, where the Marines, Air Force and Navy also recruit.

The police department’s bomb squad, ATF agents and members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force were at the scene assisting the probe.

Given the timing and size of the blast, though, I’m guessing it’s some disgruntled wannabe recruit or misguided antiwar activist rather than an organized terrorist operation. The police chief seems to agree, noting, “This was not a particularly sophisticated device.” On the other hand, one takes reasonable precautions: “After the incident, the Army sent an alert to the 1,650 Army recruiting stations across the country, said Douglas Smith of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.”

CNN notes this twist, however:

The blast is similar to two other incidents in New York, one in October and one in May 2005. Both times an explosive device was detonated around 3 a.m.

In the October incident, a bomb was detonated near the Mexican consulate, shattering windows. At that time the authorities said the explosive device was similar to the ones used in a May 2005 blast at the British consulate.

In both cases, authorities were looking for a person spotted riding a bicycle in the area.

If the three incidents are related — and all that seems to tie them together is the size of the blast, the time of day, and a bicycle — it may just be a thrillseeker with no real political agenda.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. markm says:

    “it may just be a thrillseeker with no real political agenda.”

    A thrill seeker would use a unicycle….

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  2. Cernig says:

    Lets see now – the evidence tying this to a lone wacko on a bike is circumstantial (“the size of the blast, the time of day, and a bicycle”), but the evidence tying it to an anti-war movement or Islamist group is…um…nil.

    Must be Code Pink or AQI then.

    Welcome to the Scary World of John Hindraker.

    Regards, C

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  3. Phil Smith says:

    So, Cernig, you’d make the same statement if the target was, let’s say, a Planned Parenthood facility?

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  4. James Joyner says:

    but the evidence tying it to an anti-war movement or Islamist group …um…nil.

    Aside from the fact that Islamist groups have a propensity for blowing things up, agreed. The fact that it was a military recruiting office leads to reasonable speculation that the military is a target.

    My guess is that it’s either some nut with a specific grievance (i.e., the recruiter turned him down or lied to him) or some yahoo having “fun”.

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  5. Michael says:

    Am I the only one who’s first thought was: It’s 3 am, It must be Hillary?

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  6. Cernig says:

    Phil, absent evidence, yes.

    James, a trend isn’t evidence unless an event can be specifically tied to the trend. I’d say that the Mexican embassy, which isn’t involved in the wars of occupation at all (specific incident) being a target too (trend of targets, tied to specific by description of bomber and by method) points to a lone wacko.

    I may be wrong, but there’s no evidence yet to say so. Suggesting otherwise is illogical, Captain. Law of Excluded Middle.

    Regards, C

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  7. jummy says:

    Cernig,

    The evidence tying it to a “lone nut” on a bicycle is videotape of a “lone nut” pulling up to the locatioon on a bicycle, placeing the device, and riding off as it explodes.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2008/03/06/surveillance-video-the-times-square-bombing/

    The evidence of it being motivated by “anti-war” sentiment is indeed circumstantial – it is based on the long and persistent activities of violence and vandalism undertaken by the “anti-war” and “counter-recruiting” movements.

    http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/4430901/detail.html

    http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon2/domguemap.html

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07095/775380-85.stm

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1803587/posts

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  8. jummy says:

    Cernig,

    T)he radical left net hub, NYC IndyMedia, is able to identify radical left motivations behind each of these attacks:

    “The New York Times is reporting that police suspect a connection between this attack and similar blasts outside the British Consulate (May 5, 2005) and the Mexican Consulate in New York (Oct. 26, 2007). Unmentioned in the NY Times coverage: the British Consulate bombing occurred on the day of the UK’s general elections, during which pro-war PM Tony Blair won a third term; the Mexican Consulate blast was on the one-year anniversary of the murder of (NYC-based) Indymedia journalist Brad Will, a killing widely attributed to PRI-backed paramilitaries.”

    http://nyc.indymedia.org/en/2008/03/95282.html

    Today also happens to be the anniversary of the Weather Underground’s first explosion; not an arbitrary association when one considers that this is a year when progressives are mobilizing to, in their own words, “Recreate 68” and a year after Bob Ross rounded up a bunch of young airheads to perform his revival of the SDS.

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  9. [...] March 6, 2008, a US Armed Forces recruiting station was bombed by an unknown individual. It took Geraldo Rivera just over 24 hours to start planting a notion in the heads of millions of [...]

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  10. [...] March 6, 2008, a US Armed Forces recruiting station was bombed by an unknown individual. It took Geraldo Rivera just over 24 hours to start planting a notion in the heads of millions of [...]

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  11. [...] March 6, 2008, a US Armed Forces recruiting station was bombed by an unknown individual. It took Geraldo Rivera just over 24 hours to start planting a notion in the heads of millions of [...]

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