Latest update: 03/05/2010
White House says Times Square car-bomb attempt was 'terrorism'
The White House labelled the failed car bomb in New York's Times Square as an act of terrorism Monday, stepping up the gravity of the incident from earlier reports. Unnamed officials say it appears the attack was coordinated by several people.
REUTERS - The failed car bomb in New York's Times Square increasingly appears to have been coordinated by several people in a plot with international ties, The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing unnamed Obama administration officials.
White House officials also characterized the incident on Saturday night as attempted terrorism for the first time, dramatically stepping up their description of the intended attack.
"Anybody that has the type of material that they had in a car in Times Square, I would say that that was intended to terrorize, absolutely," Gibbs told a White House briefing. "And I would say that whoever did that would be categorized as a terrorist, yes."
New York police interviewed the owner of the vehicle on Monday and scrutinized more video tapes from the incident that rattled New Yorkers and forced the evacuation of Times Square, which was packed with thousands of tourists.
The investigation was still trying to identify a thin, white man in his 40s who was caught on video near the car that had been packed with propane gas tanks, plastic containers of gasoline, firecrackers and non-explosive fertilizer.
Authorities called the device amateurish, saying it generated smoke but failed to explode while the car was parked awkwardly in a packed Times Square with its engine running and hazard lights flashing.
The bomb could have set off a deadly fireball that would have blown out windows at the so-called crossroads of the world.
Though the identity of the would-be bomber has eluded investigators, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed that those responsible would be arrested.
"We have made really substantial progress. We have some good leads," Holder told reporters in Washington, referring to the man in the video. "We are following a number of other leads as well."
The 19 seconds of video released by police showed the man removing a dark shirt worn over a red shirt, stuffing it into a bag and then walking away with the item. He is seen glancing at least twice over his shoulder.