Three violent incidents (two bomb explosions and a stabbing attack) that happened in three cities in a twelve-hour span raise new fears of Islamic terrorism in the homeland less than two months before the fall elections. A total of 38 people have been injured in the attacks. The stabbing assailant is dead, and five suspects in the Manhattan bombing case have been taken into custody.
The Manhattan explosion occurred about 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the area of West 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, injuring 29 people as it hurled glass and debris into the air, officials said. Surveillance video showed passersby running to get away from the blast, and investigators said they would comb through that and older footage to try to identify those responsible.
Authorities said the explosion was produced by some type of bomb, and they posted on Twitter a photo of what appeared to be a mangled Dumpster or garbage container.
A letter, written partially in Arabic, was found at the scene of a second unexploded device after a blast rocked Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood Saturday night, the NY Post reports. Additionally, witnesses are saying they saw “an Arab-looking man who was carrying a suitcase” in the area about a half an hour before the homemade bomb went off.
According to the Post, a 911 caller warned that more explosions are coming.
“I’m looking at the explosion down the block. There will be more,” the unidentified male said, claiming to be standing at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue in the aftermath of the terrifying incident, according to law-enforcement sources Sunday.
Investigators believe the blast was the result of a home-made, pressure-cooker bomb similar to an unexploded device found later on 27th Street, sources said.
The letter was found inside a plastic bag that held the second device that didn’t go off.
Cops were interviewing two men who claim to have spotted a potential person of interest in the case, sources said.
The witnesses were dining at the Krush bar and grill on 32nd Street about a half-hour before the 8:30 p.m. Saturday explosion when they saw an Arab-looking man who was carrying a suitcase and appeared out of place, sources said.
ABC7NY reported Sunday evening that five people were taken into custody in connection with the bombing.
At 8:45 p.m. Sunday the FBI and NYPD conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle of interest in the investigation into the bombing.
The men were in a car stopped on the Belt Parkway. They were headed from Staten Island to Brooklyn on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Surveillance video from Saturday shows a man dragging what appears to be a duffel bag with wheels near the site of the explosion on West 23rd street about 40 minutes before the blast, according to multiple local and federal law enforcement sources. Video shows the same man with what appears to be the same duffel bag on West 27th street about 10 minutes later, multiple law enforcement sources said.
In the video, the man leaves the duffel bag where police later found an unexploded pressure cooker. After he leaves, the video shows two men removing a white garbage bag believed to contain the pressure cooker from the duffel bag and leave it on the sidewalk, according to a senior law enforcement official and another source familiar with the video.
Investigators have not determined the relationship between the two men and the man dragging the duffel bag, the sources said.
A law enforcement source told Fox News that police think the person who made the device that detonated in New York Saturday night is the same person who made a device that detonated in New Jersey Saturday morning.
As of Sunday afternoon, officials have not said publicly there was a common link between the two bombing incidents, according to New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
“I am concerned,” O’Neill said during a news conference. “We have a bomb that detonated and no one apprehended.”
In a separate incident in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Saturday night, a Somali immigrant went on a stabbing spree at the local mall, injuring nine people with non-life-threatening wounds. The terrorist was fatally shot by an off-duty police officer. The suspect has been identified as Dahir A. Adan, a 22-year-old college student who came to America 15 years ago. An ISIS-linked news agency claimed that Adan was “soldier of the Islamic State,” although there’s no confirmation yet that he was connected to ISIS.
The trio of dangerous episodes began Saturday when a pipe bomb exploded inside a plastic garbage can in New Jersey’s Seaside Park at 9:30 a.m. Investigators eventually found several devices “wired together” that did not detonate in the same garbage can.
The blast location could have proven deadly. Officials said runners participating in a charity 5K race were expected to pass by the area around the time of the explosion – but the start of the race was delayed after an unattended backpack was discovered. As a result, no one was injured.
Eleven hours later and just 80 miles north, a bomb detonated in Manhattan, injuring 29. An hour after that, the knife-wielding Somali injured nine people — seven men and two women — during his bloody rampage at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota.