UPDATE 11-US seeks Pakistani-American over car bomb – report

* Suspect visited Pakistan recently – report

* Vehicle that carried bomb was sold three weeks ago

* Bomb “was intended to terrorize” – White House

* Task force has taken over investigation
(Recasts with details of investigation)

By Michelle Nichols and Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK, May 3 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. investigators want to
arrest a Pakistani-American man they have identified as the
buyer of the vehicle used in a failed car bombing in New York’s
Times Square, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The man recently returned from a trip to Pakistan, the
newspaper said, citing people briefed on the investigation.

The naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, who lives in
neighboring Connecticut, bought the 1993 Nissan sport utility
vehicle with cash and no paperwork in the last three weeks, the
Times said.

“Investigators who were tracking the man were also
exploring whether he or others who might have been involved in
the attempted bombing had been in contact with people or groups
overseas,” it said, citing unnamed federal officials.

Law enforcement sources told Reuters that Saturday’s
attempted attack may have involved more than one person and
could have international ties.

The hunt for the suspects has now been taken over by the
Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the Justice Department.

Investigators — who are poring over surveillance camera
footage, the Pathfinder and the bomb parts for clues — want to
talk to a white man in his 40s captured on video near the
vehicle shortly after it was left in Times Square.

Casualties, damage and chaos would have been certain if the
crude bomb made of fuel and fireworks had gone off as the
theater, shopping and hotel district was packed with people on
a warm weekend evening.

For New Yorkers who bore the brunt of the Sept. 11 attacks
by al Qaeda militants in 2001, the scare was a reminder that
their city of 8 million people is under constant threat.

‘INTENDED TO TERRORIZE’

Street vendors selling T-shirts and handbags alerted police
to the smoking and sparking Nissan Pathfinder that was parked
awkwardly with its engine running and hazard lights on near a
Broadway theater where Disney’s “The Lion King” is performed.

The Pathfinder, with a license plate taken from a car now
in a repair shop in Connecticut, was rigged with propane gas
cylinders, gasoline cans, fertilizer, fireworks and timing
devices when it was found in Times Square.

“I would say that that was intended to terrorize,” White
House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. “And I would say
that whoever did that would be categorized as a terrorist.”

The incident had little impact on Monday on a broadly
stronger stock market and Treasury bonds stayed lower in a
similarly muted reaction, with attention focused on encouraging
economic data and reduced anxiety over Greece. [ID:nN03262186]

The registered owner of the vehicle told police he sold it
three weeks ago without any paperwork to a 29- or 30-year-old
man described as Hispanic or Middle Eastern, the sources told
Reuters.

One law enforcement source said the apparent difference
between the vehicle buyer and the man captured on video in
Times Square gave “some credibility to the statement that
(investigators) believe there is more than one individual
involved and that it is international in scope.”

But several officials cautioned against drawing conclusions
because the investigation was still in the early stages.

“I can’t at this point rule in or out the possibility of
international connections,” said one senior U.S. intelligence
official.

Police said they plan to release a second video, taken by a
tourist in Times Square and showing a man running near the
scene at about the time of the incident.

The New York Times said investigators appear to be
assigning less importance to the white man in his 40s seen
removing a shirt in the first video released by police.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the failed
bomb attack as an “amateurish job” but authorities said the
device could have created a deadly fireball had it detonated.

“If anything was made clear on Saturday night, it’s that
New York is a target,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a Brooklyn
native, said as he urged Washington to give the city $30
million to boost security.

‘SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS’

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vowed that those
responsible would be arrested.

“We have made really substantial progress. We have some
good leads,” Holder told reporters in Washington. “We are
following a number of other leads as well.”

The Taliban in Pakistan said on Sunday it planted the bomb
to avenge the killing in April of al Qaeda’s two top leaders in
Iraq. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Bloomberg have
said there was “no evidence” to support that claim.

But former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, who oversaw an Obama
administration strategy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan last
year, cautioned against dismissing a possible role of the
Pakistani Taliban in the failed car bomb.

“They have said they want to attack inside the United
States,” Riedel said before the Times report, adding there was
“a very serious possibility” the incident involved “some
Pakistani-American who has never built a car bomb before in his
life but who is being coached either by phone or Internet.”
Investing Research

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Adam Entous,
Patricia Zengerle, Will Dunham, Deborah Charles and JoAnne
Allen in Washington; Editing by John O’Callaghan)

UPDATE 11-US seeks Pakistani-American over car bomb – report