The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department have a long history of clashes with overlap in counterterrorism work becoming a source of tension.
But at a press conference Tuesday announcing the arrest of a man who allegedly tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the FBI and NYPD had been working closely.
“It’s been seamless. People ask that question a lot, and the answer is the same and it’s true, we’re working extremely well together,” Kelly said.
In his comments, Kelly said the investigation was done in “record time.”
“We know that Jack Bauer can do it in 24″ hours, Kelly said. “but in the real word, 53 is a pretty good number.”
A potentially awkward moment at the news conference came when Attorney General Eric Holder was asked about the possibility of holding the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and the other alleged 9/11 conspirators in New York City.
Kelly, who initially supported the trial being held in New York, allegedly said that providing security for that trial would “suck the oxygen” from the NYPD and leave it little flexibility to pursue new initiatives, as reported by The New York Times in January.
“We are considering a number of options…where that trial will be held, and I will leave it at that,” Holder said, acknowledging that New York City was still on the table.
A transcript of Kelly’s initial remarks are available below.
New York can breathe a little easier today.
That’s due in large measure to the investigative muscle and alacrity of NYPD detectives and FBI agents, not to mention the eagle-eyed customs personnel on duty last night at JFK.
I also want to commend United States Attorney Preet Bharara and his able assistants, they worked closely with the NYPD, not only in this case, but in prosecuting many others to make certain that criminals in the Southern District of New York face justice.
The Pathfinder in Times Square had a license plate belonging to another car. The dashboard vehicle identification number had been removed.
The big break in this case came when a detective climbed underneath the pathfinder and lifted the vehicle identification number from the bottom of its engine block.
That led to the registered owner of the vehicle, and soon thereafter to the suspect who purchased the vehicle and who drove it bomb-laden into the heart of times square.It was deja vu.
After the first attack on the World Trade Center, a detective lifted the vehicle identification number off the engine block of the Ryder truck that exploded there.
That led to the arrest of the bombers when they tried to get their deposit back from the truck rental agent.
We couldn’t have gotten to the Pathfinder’s engine block in the first place, however, were it not for the heroic actions of the NYPD’s bomb squad.
The bomb squad suited up in hot weather in oppressive protective gear and worked painstakingly from 7:00 p.m. on Saturday to three the following morning to dismantle all of the dangerous parts of the car bomb: The timers, the wires, the m-88s, the propane tanks, the gasoline containers and the gun locker filled with fertilizer.
The whole lethal assembly turned the Pathfinder into one big hurt locker.
Only after all the bomb parts were rendered safe and removed from the vehicle, could it be towed to our forensic garage for an exhaustive examination that included the engine block.
Fifty-three hours and 20 minutes elapsed from the time Faisal Shahzad crossed Broadway in his Pathfinder to the time he was apprehended at Kennedy airport.
Jack Bower may have caught him in “24.” But in the real world, 53’s not bad.
Congratulations to all who played a part in bringing this suspect to justice in record time. True, we can all breathe a little easier. But we have to stay vigilant, nonetheless.
That’s because in the eyes of terrorists, New York is America, and they keep coming back to kill us.