But don’t worry. The feds tell us it’s not terrorism:
The police discovered a car bomb in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of Times Square Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers from the area on a warm and busy Saturday evening, the police said.
Crowds were lined up on the south side of 43rd Street as the heart of Times Square was closed off to traffic.
There was no explosion.
“It appears to be a car bomb left in a Pathfinder between Seventh and Eighth” Avenues on 45th Street, said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman.
The device, he said, contained “explosive elements” that included “propane tanks, some kind of powder, gasoline and a timing device.”
“This is very much an active investigation,” he said.
The police would not say whether they had any suspects, and did not say if they had determined what might have been behind the event.
A federal official said it was not considered it [sic] a terrorist threat and that the New York Police Department had told the Department of Homeland Security to stand down. The official would not say why he believed that or what the New York Police Department told them about the episode.
Not a terrorist threat. Hoo-kay then.
Hot Air quotes what sounds like a Reuters story as follows:
Police officials said a witness reported a running Nissan Pathfinder with Connecticut plates, with smoke coming out of the back. A bomb squad robot popped the back latch of the Pathfinder, and officers found what they initially believed was a bomb. The vehicle was found to contain explosives, gasoline, propane and burned wires, a Fire Department officer told Reuters.
The officer, who did not give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the news media, said that a man was seen fleeing the S.U.V. and that the police evacuated the area in case there were other threats nearby.
But it’s not terrorism.
The system worked!
UPDATE: Just so it’s clear what we’re dealing with here, let me quote Allahpundit, who reminds us of a similar-sounding plot to detonate fuel-air bombs in London. There, like tonight’s bomb, propane tanks were to be used to set off a tremendous explosion:
Fuel-air bombs are hugely destructive, as this harrowing Danger Room article published after the London plot broke made all too clear. A fuel-air bomb properly detonated in Times Square on a Saturday night likely would have killed hundreds of people. If that’s what this was — and the feds evidently aren’t sure yet, despite reports of “fireworks” going on in the back seat and someone running away from the vehicle — then there’s a seriously dangerous individual running around NYC right now. Stay tuned.
I get a little sick of federal officials quickly declaring that there is no terrorism angle to an act that makes most sane people think instantly of terrorism. It’s not reassuring; on the contrary, it just seems clueless. Which is pretty damned far from reassuring.
UPDATE x2: They now finally admit it was a “potential terrorist attack.” You don’t say!