Boston Bombers Discussed Attacking Times Square

We’re learning today that the Tsarnaev brothers apparently discussed detonating their remaining explosives in Times Square:

The suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing had intended to drive to New York to detonate their remaining explosive devices in Times Square, New York City officials said on Thursday.

The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said at a news conference that the suspects still had five pipe bombs and another device, similar to the pressure-cooker bomb used in the marathon attacks, that they intended to use. But their plan was foiled, Mr. Kelly said, because the vehicle they had carjacked did not have enough gas to reach New York. When the suspects stopped for fuel, the carjacking victim escaped and the police were notified.

Mr. Kelly said that the plan to bomb New York was spontaneous, and that he was not aware if there were any further details of the plan. He and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said they were not aware of any other terrorist threat against New York that stemmed from the attacks in Boston.

“Last evening, we learned through the Joint Terrorism Task Force that the Boston Marathon bombers had planned to travel to Manhattan to detonate their remaining bombs in Times Square,” Mr. Kelly said.

“Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the terror suspect who was captured alive, initially told investigators that he and his brother decided after the Boston bombings that they would go to New York City to party,” Mr. Kelly said. “However, a subsequent questioning of Dzhokhar revealed that he and his brother decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target.”

While the mayor said the F.B.I. had informed New York authorities that Mr. Tsarnaev told federal investigators that New York City was next on their list of targets, several federal law enforcement officials played down that notion, saying Mr. Tsarnaev’s statements made it clear that his discussions with his brother, Tamerlan, were far shy of any sort of plan.

One federal official, while noting there was no question that the two men were extremely dangerous, characterized the discussion that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reported as having had with his brother in the carjacked Mercedes “as a stream of consciousness as opposed to, ‘Bomb Boston, then bomb New York.'”

“How this thing flows is they hijack the car, they get $700 from this guy, and basically, they have gas money, and they say, ‘Now we can go to New York and use the rest of the explosives,'” the official said.

By the time the Tsarnaev brothers were having this discussion, their photographs had already been public for nearly twelve hours, and the fact that they don’t really seem to have had a coherent plan regarding an attack  in New York City. Plus they were driving in a stolen car that police were already looking for. The odds that they could have actually have made it to New York, or that they would have been successful once they got there strike me as being pretty low.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Policing, Terrorism, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. PD Shaw says:

    Given their jihadist motivations, I find it implausible that they would not have aspirations for further terror attacks, perhaps one which allowed them to die in a blaze of glory. Though I don’t disagree with Doug’s observations the odds of “success,” at least as measured by what they did in Boston, seem remote if they were winging it on the lam.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    @PD Shaw: One almost gets the impression that aside from making and setting the bombs in Boston, EVERYTHING these two bozos did was ex tempore.

    It’s just too bad that they weren’t equivalently incompetent with their original bombs. Then we might have two more candidates for the Darwin Award, rather than the tragedy that resulted.

  3. wr says:

    I suspect they also discussed having sex with Victoria’s Secret models and then toppling the US government. They seem to have taken the Underpants Gnomes episode of South Park as their training manual.

  4. CSK says:

    It’s possible they made the plan to go to New York that night and bomb there only after they were identified, maybe thinking they’d go out in a blaze of glory. Before that, they seem to have carried on with their “normal” lives–Dzhokhar went back to UMass/Dartmouth and partied, and Tamerlan did…whatever Tamerlan did.

    Apart from that, the Marathon bombing seems to have been well-plotted and executed, and I wouldn’t think it unlikely that they had plans to commit further bombing at other locations in the future. They may in fact had New York in mind as an eventual target.

  5. Rafer Janders says:

    Well, on the plus side, Times Square is one of several places in New York where they would be almost guaranteed not to have killed any actual New Yorkers….