U.S. News

Pakistani Taliban claim failed New York bomb attack

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempted car bomb attack in New York’s Times Square, a statement on an Islamist website said on Sunday.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the claim. Security officials have urged caution, saying there could be links to other Islamist groups or to a domestic cause in the United States.

“The Pakistani Taliban announces its responsibility for the New York attack in revenge for the two leaders al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir and Muslim martyrs,” said a statement on a website commonly used by Islamists.

Al Qaeda’s Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri -- also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir -- and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the purported head of its local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, were killed last month.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Sunday that the car bomb defused in New York’s Times Square may have been a terrorist attack. Officials held off identifying who might be responsible for the crude device, made of propane, gasoline, and fireworks.

The car bomb was defused in New York’s Times Square on Saturday evening. Police found it in a sport utility vehicle when the area was packed with tourists and theater-goers.

The Pakistani Taliban, mostly ethnic Pashtuns from northwestern regions on Pakistan’s Afghan border, support the Afghan Taliban who are also mainly of Pashtun descent.

Many in the Afghan Taliban fled to Pakistani Pashtun lands after U.S.-led forces ousted Afghanistan’s hardline Taliban government in 2001.

The Islamist website (here) said that Qari Hussain Mehsud, known as the master mentor of Taliban suicide bombers, accepted responsibility for the failed attack "with great pride and utmost bravery."

Mehsud, a cousin of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, is considered one of the most powerful Taliban leaders.

A video made by “Taliban News” on YouTube had a prepared video with English subtitles claiming responsibility for the attempted New York city attack, but the video was quickly taken down and is now unavailable.

Writing by Erika Solomon; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton