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Times Square bomb plot: 'CSI' methods could crack the case

Video cameras, fingerprints, and chemical clues could all come into play as authorities try to identify who drove an explosives-laden vehicle into Times Square. The bomb plot left behind plenty of evidence.

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The FBI lab may also be able to trace the fireworks found in the car, says King, especially if they were made in the United States. Most USA-made fireworks have chemical tags. “If the fireworks came from Alabama, no problem. But if they came from China, no go,” King says.

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Even the gasoline in the car and the gas tanks loaded in the back seat of the vehicle can be traced to individual oil companies such as Shell or Hess, he says.

Investigators will also be analyzing the videotapes.

So far, photographs of the individual in question appear to be blurry. But, King says, the FBI has very sophisticated facial recognition technology. For example, he says, Scotland Yard used US technology to identify the London subway bombers.

Also, if the individual stopped at any smoke shop or store in the Times Square area, video cameras could have obtained good views of him.

In addition, investigators will be working on psychological profiles of the individual. So far, outside analysts believe that the bomb attempt was done by an amateur.

“It does not have the MO of the professional,” says Gary LaFree, a professor of criminology and director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland in College Park. “It strikes me more if not home grown, then on the amateur side.”

A professional bombmaker, he says would have been successful at igniting the bomb. Second, he says, the bomb itself was not very sophisticated. “A real pro would have done a better job,” he says. “I think we are looking at an amateur or a small cell.”

In fact, with all the possible evidence available, authorities will crack the case rather quickly, Professor LaFree says. “I think in 72 hours we will know a lot more,” he says.


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