The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee confirmed that “there were some calls that came in warning that other bombs would go off” after Saturday night’s explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
“We always have to worry about that in these types of situations,” chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told MSNBC this morning. “Remember, the old al-Qaeda playbook manual always talked about simultaneous events, bombs going off simultaneously in multiple locations, which is what we saw I think Saturday night, unfortunately.”
A woman who lived a few blocks from the original explosion site discovered a pressure-cooker device in a plastic bag next to a mailbox outside of her apartment.
Additionally, on Saturday, a pipe bomb exploded in a trash can at the start of a morning charity race in New Jersey. No one was injured as the race time was delayed by registration hiccups.
On Sunday, two men going through the trash near commuter train tracks in Elizabeth, N.J., found a backpack that contained up to five devices. One exploded as a bomb squad robot clipped a wire.
“I don’t think these sources are credible that other bombs are out there, but you have to take that threat seriously,” McCaul said. “I know that NYPD and FBI are investigating those leads right now. I think the good news is, as you mentioned, we are starting to move in on the — the manhunt, if you will, given the video that we have recovered and the tips that we have recovered from just the good people of New York.”
Police are searching for Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan.
McCaul suggested that it was another person who called about more imminent bombings.
“Obviously the individual who called in with that information has been talked to and it’s being followed-up as any lead would. The question is whether that was a credible lead or phone call coming in,” he said. “It’s more of a threat that other bombs would go off, and so that is obviously something that’s being run down.”
The chairman said “this was an act of terror — I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
“I think the question has been all along is what was the motivation, was it Islamist-based terror or was it some other motivation to detonate these explosive devices,” McCaul said. “This is very consistent with what we’ve seen in the past from both al-Qaeda and ISIS in terms of the Times Square bomber, the Boston bomber, as you recall used pressure-cooker bombs. And also, pipe bombs as the chase scene ensued when they tried to apprehend them after the fact.”
“So I think they have a track record here, if you will. We’ve seen this movie before, using pressure-cookers to kill Americans. I think it’s very consistent and very likely that we’re gonna find at the end of the day and now given the name that we have of the person of interest, that it was Islamist-based terror.”
McCaul said the two devices blocks away in NYC “indicates to me as a former federal prosecutor is that now you have a conspiracy and now you have a cell, not just a lone wolf act by himself, but rather an operational cell of terrorists who are working together to kill Americans.”