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Why the Times Square bomb failed spectacularly

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The fireworks were supposed to detonate gasoline cans and propane tanks packed in the sport utility vehicle used for this wheel-borne improvised explosive device (IED). The final piece in the hoped-for chain reaction of the bomb was a larger box – a gun locker – filled with 200 to 250 pounds of fertilizer.

Initial police reports indicate that the fertilizer was not the grade of ammonium nitrate used by Mr. McVeigh to terrible effect. McVeigh’s bomb, at some 4,000 pounds, was also much larger.

'Call it a terrorist act'

But even a small bomb, properly constructed, could have caused havoc in the close quarters of Times Square. To park a car bomb there shows that the perpetrator was intending to make a statement and cause the maximum amount of damage possible, says Pike.

To him, that’s terrorism, whether of domestic or international origin.

“I would go ahead and call it a terrorist act,” he says.

In a series of broadcast appearances on Monday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said the US is not ruling anything in or anything out as it investigates the case.

“Right now, every lead has to be pursued,” said Secretary Napolitano on NBC’s “Today” show.

However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday that whoever had tried the attack had intended to terrorize New Yorkers.

“I would say that whoever did that would be categorized as a terrorist,” said Mr. Gibbs at the White House briefing.

There's plenty of evidence for investigators to work with, because the SUV-bomb did not go off.

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