Feds Feared Multi-City Attacks

When federal and local law-enforcement authorities first learned that a car bomb had been discovered in New York's Times Square, one of their most urgent concerns was that there were bombs placed elsewhere and that the attempted attack as part of an elaborate 9/11-style series of assaults.

As a result of discussions between domestic and foreign counterterrorism agencies, two federal officials told Declassified, one of the first steps the Department of Homeland Security took in the wake of the reported bombing attempt was to send out bulletins—more than one, according to one of the officials—alerting local law-enforcement agencies around the country about the failed Times Square attack, and telling them to be particularly vigilant in case it was only one of a series of similar simultaneous assaults that were going to take place across the country. It is the Homeland Security Department's responsibility to keep state and local authorities aware of federal thinking and intelligence reporting on possible threats and terror plots inside the U.S.

By Sunday morning, however, worries about possible follow-up attacks or a wider plot appear to have eased considerably, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano telling Sunday news shows that there is no evidence to suggest the attempted New York bombing was anything other than a one-off.

Federal and local authorities are also playing down speculation that the attempted bombing might somehow be linked to recent threats by an obscure but rabid Islamic extremist faction against the creators of South Park, who tried to lampoon the Prophet Muhammad in a recent two-part episode that was heavily censored by Comedy Central, the cable channel that airs the scatological satire. An NYPD official said there was "no information to suggest" the attempted bombing was connected to South Park. "We never said we are investigating a link to that threat," said the official. A similar assessment was offered by a federal intelligence official, although an FBI spokesman in New York said, "Every lead will be investigated." A Comedy Central spokesman did not immediately respond to a message from Declassified requesting their comment.

Feds Feared Multi-City Attacks | U.S.