INSIDE EDITION Investigates the Power of a Car Bomb
What if the plot to bomb Times Square had worked? Fortunately it failed to detonate. But in this INSIDE EDITION special investigation, we wanted to see what could have happened if the Times Square bomb had really gone off.
Just like the alleged Times Square bomber, INSIDE EDITION went on craigslist.com and bought a Nissan Pathfinder, and brought it to an explosives test facility at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology outside Albuquerque.
For obvious issues of public safety, INSIDE EDITION is not going to detail how the device was put together. But we can tell you what has already been widely reported.
The accused terrorist used a combination of propane and gasoline tanks and fertilizer. Luckily for the people who were in Times Square that night, it wasn't explosive-grade fertilizer which expert Van Romero says requires a government license to purchase.
INSIDE EDITION's Les Trent asked Romero, "Assuming the alleged bomber had built this thing and used explosive-grade fetilizer, what are we talking about in terms of casualties?"
"A lot of people injured, a lot of deaths in the vicinity of the vehicle," said Romero.
When the vehicle was loaded and ready to blow, INSIDE EDITION placed some mannequins at various distances around the vehicle to show what could have happened in a busy Times Square. Cameras were placed around the vehicle but reporters had to be a half mile away.
Remember, we used explosive-grade fertilizer, which is what Faisal Shahzad allegedly thought he was using.
A special high speed camera captured the explosion in slow motion. Shards of the SUV are sent flying in every direction, each a potentially deadly projectile.
Former NYPD bomb squad detective Kevin Barry is a member of International Association of Bomb Technicians. Referring to the Times Square bombing attempt, he said, "We side-stepped a big one that day."
Looking at our video, he said the explosion would be catastrophic.
"The fragmentation is hitting people like someone is firing a machine gun or automatic weapon outward toward the crowd. Followed by that thermal ball, and it would set people's clothes on fire and set their hair on fire," said Davis.
He said the initial blast zone would have extended 50 feet. The fireball would reach out 300 to 400 feet. Car parts and other shrapnel would cause serious damage up to 500 feet and 20 stories high.
"The shock wave hitting people can cause internal injuries. It can cause collapsed eardrums and loss of sight," said Barry.
When the dust settled and the all clear was given, Trent returned to the site. A good 100 yards away from the main wreckage, Trent found all sorts of shrapnel. The SUV had been tossed upside down like a toy, and the area was littered with twisted razor sharp pieces of the SUV.
Trent took a look to see how the mannequins faired. One mannequin stood about 10 feet directly behind the SUV when it exploded. Trent only found her shoes.
Another mannequin was postioned 40 feet away. That mannequin was blown to pieces.
Amazingly, Trent found that the furthest away mannequin only had a damaged knee.
INSIDE EDITION showed our video to Duane Jackson, the hero street vendor who alerted police, and is credited with saving Times Square from disaster.
"This goes to show that we dodged a bulllet. It could have been much worse," said Jackson.
A calamity that might have been. But thanks to some quick thinking New Yorkers, and the professionalism of the NYPD, it was mercifully averted.