AUTHORITIES are looking at whether yesterday's failed bombing in New York's Times Square may be revenge for a recent TV episode that mocked the Prophet Mohammed.
"This vehicle was close to a Viacom building which owns MTV and Comedy Central. And you have the whole issue with South Park, which Islamic terrorists were threatening to have retribution for,
" Republican Peter King, told CNN, although he stressed the theory was "one possibility out of a hundred".
Asked if this was a possibility at an afternoon news conference yesterday, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W Kelly said that although no link had been determined, nothing could be ruled out. An American Islamic group issued a dire threat against South Park's creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, for an episode last month that showed Mohammed dressed in a bear outfit - the joke being that he had to wear the suit because depictions of the holy figure are forbidden.
The Pakistani Taliban today claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was retaliation for the recent killings of the top leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq."We have no evidence to support this claim," Comissioner Kelly said.
Meanwhile, there was no evidence of a Taliban link and police were on their way to Pennsylvania to talk to a man who said he may have recorded a bombing suspect in a nearby alley, the city's police commissioner said.
The video apparently shows a white man in his 40s taking off his shirt in the alley and putting it in a bag, Commissioner Kelly said today. Police found the SUV parked on one of the prime blocks for Broadway shows such as The Lion King after being alerted by two street vendors last night (local time). Thousands of tourists were cleared from the streets for 10 hours, and the bomb was dismantled. No one was injured.
The SUV contained three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 19-litre petrol containers and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components, police said. Timers were connected to a 350 millilitre can filled with fireworks that were apparently intended to set the petrol cans on fire, then ignite the three barbecue-grill-sized propane tanks.
Commissioner Kelly said it was "the intent of whoever did this to cause mayhem, create casualties". Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the explosive device "amateurish" but potentially deadly, noting: "We are very lucky". Police also found eight bags of an unknown substance in a gun locker that was in the smoking SUV, Commissioner Kelly said.
The substance "looks and feels" like fertiliser, he said, but tests are pending. A group that monitors militant websites had said the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility