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Why the Times Square bomb failed spectacularly

The Times Square bomb failed to go off because it was badly constructed and poorly designed. But other bombs made of easy-to-obtain ingredients have caused mayhem, which analysts say was the intent in New York City, too.

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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.

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“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.

Terrorism via easy-to-obtain ingredients

Propane and gasoline have been used in terrorist attacks before. In June 2007, a British-born Muslim doctor radicalized by the war in Iraq used propane, gas, and nails in a series of attempted car bombs in London and Glasgow. They failed to detonate.

But easily obtainable ingredients can still be mixed to deadly effect. Backpack bombs made of peroxide and other substances found in hair salons were the weapon used in the 2005 London subway bombings, in which 52 people were killed.

Najibullah Zazi, the Denver airport shuttle bus employee who pleaded guilty to a 2009 plot to attack the New York City subway, was stockpiling material for a peroxide-type explosive, according to US authorities.

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