NYC – Caller Warns of “Massive Explosion” – “Car Was Only a Diversion” – Cyanide Found on Man in Subway Tunnel

By Julia Bodeeb, Associated Content News,  May 2 2010

The FBI is investigating an ominous 911 call that was made at about 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. The NY Times reports that the person said “There would be a massive explosion soon and the car in Times Square was only a diversion.” Homeland Security investigators are looking into this threat and the SUV car bomb left in Times Square.

This threatening phone call reawakens all of the memories of 9/11. Let’s hope the Feds find out who made this call quickly and determines if they have any links to known terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda.

Call Made at W. 53rd Street

The early morning phone call was made from a pay phone located at West 53rd Street and 7th Avenue. Investigators have dusted the phone booth for fingerprints and searched the area for any other evidence.This call to 9aa was made less than ten blocks uptown from where the SUV was left with a bomb device the evening before. Officials still do not know who was responsible for the SUV bomb, which started to detonate but was ineffective.

Links to Iraq?

The NY Times has pointed out similarities between the bomb in the SUV and the failed car bomb terrorism attacks abroad in the summer months of 2007. Iraq was believed to be involved in those incidents per federal authorities. They occurred in the London theater district and near bars; another similar incident occurred around that same time at the Glasgow airport. Investigators are going to be reviewing security tapes from a lot of businesses in Times Square. Because this location is deemed very high risk for a terrorism attack, there are many cameras stationed in the area.

3 Terrorism Scares in NYC this Weekend

Thus NYC has had three terrorism alarms this weekend. First, a young man was found in a subway tunnel with cyanide tablets, next, an SUV with a bomb device was left in Times Square, and now a threatening phone call was received by 911.It is important for everyone in NYC, residents and tourists too, to report anything suspicious they see or hear to the police. Also, if you notice something suspicious, take a picture of it with your cell phone, if you carry one.

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Regarding the next story – how likely is it that someone about to take their own life would impersonate a transit worker?  How did he just happen to end up at the most vulnerable spot in NYC for a terror attack?

Man Found With Cyanide Pills in Subway Tunnel


Updated, 6:26 p.m. | A college student dressed as a laborer and carrying a backpack with cyanide pellets, roadway flares and water was taken into custody early Friday as he walked along the subway tracks in the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, the police said.

The discovery of the 20-year-old man at about 5:30 a.m., walking alone in the dark tunnel under the East River, triggered antiterrorism alarms because he was in a vulnerable spot precisely at the center of the authorities’ cataclysm projections.

But the man, a Pace University student, told investigators he was there to take his own life -– not anyone else’s — and the police said they believed his explanation.

He was, however, charged with criminal impersonation, weapons possession, trespass and unlawful possession of noxious matter.

Detectives from the Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed the man while Emergency Service Unit investigators searched for explosives or other devices along the tracks of the No. 4 and No. 5 train between Bowling Green station in Lower Manhattan and Borough Hall station in Brooklyn.

“He felt he might be able to find an isolated alcove where his body would not be discovered,” said Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne, the department’s chief spokesman. “He did not want anyone to know he killed himself.”

The man entered the tunnel at the Fulton Street Station and walked through to the middle of the tunnel, police said. It was not immediately clear whether any portion of the man’s journey had been captured by security cameras.

The episode underscored the vulnerability of a system that critics say is easy to enter and lacking adequate video surveillance. Of the 4,313 cameras that do exist in stations and tunnels, nearly half do not work, according to Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials, a lapse that was highlighted after last month’s fatal stabbings on a No. 2 train.

The Police Department also maintains booths at the entrances of the subway system’s underwater tunnels, but the police could not immediately confirm that they were staffed at the time the man entered.

Transit employees on a work train first spotted the man on the tracks south of Bowling Green, wearing knee-high yellow boots, a reflective vest and a hard hat. They initially believed he was a fellow worker and took him aboard, only to discover he could not produce identification. They handed him over to the police at the Bowling Green station. The man was in custody Friday afternoon, with charges pending.

Investigators tested the chemicals at a mobile laboratory, confirming their initial belief that they were nonexplosive but toxic sodium cyanide pellets.

The police said they were certain the tools in the man’s backpack were not designed for any kind of detonation. The pellets he carried, which were in a one-quart sealed can with a manufacturer’s label, are available commercially to clean jewelry. Investigators thought he may have considered using the flares to heat the pellets and inhale the noxious fumes. However, the man said he ultimately decided it would be more effective to swallow them with water.

Norman I. Seabrook, chairman of the authority’s safety and security committee, called the incident “another wake-up call” that highlighted the crucial role played by alert employees in ensuring riders’ safety. As the authority has struggled with an $800 million budget shortfall, it has resorted to layoffs, leading some to become concerned about safety in unmanned stations.

“Had this not been caught, who knows what this young man would have done to harm himself,” Mr. Seabrook said.

The man lived in student housing in Lower Manhattan, the police said.

A former roommate of the man said he was antisocial and depressed, often sleeping all day and spending his last birthday by himself, watching three movies in a row in a theater. But he never mentioned violence.

“He was completely harmless,” said the former roommate, Harold Cuartas, 19, a marketing major.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/30/man-found-with-cyanide-pills-in-subway-tunnel/

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