Sources say the last registered owner of the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder sold the SUV on the Internet site Craigslist in the last month for $1,300 dollars in cash - all in one hundred dollar bills. The seller described the buyer only as a young man who was "Hispanic or Middle Eastern looking." The owner did not provide a name.
But, investigators, using the communications surrounding the car sale, are now focusing on that buyer. They won't call him a suspect, but investigators culling through phone records and e-mails have discovered some contacts overseas.
Officials stress they have found no definitive link to al Qaeda or any terrorist group, but the White House today called the attempted attack a clear act of terrorism.
"I think anybody that has the type of material that they had in a car in Times Square, I would say that that was intended to terrorize, absolutely," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
But, sources say the crudely-built device was not fully connected and could not have caused a large-scale explosion. On the floor of the backseat were two clocks with wires running into a 16-ounce can partially filled with black powder and nestled between two 5-gallon cans of gasoline. Behind the backseat were three tanks of propane gas and a large metal box holding eight bags of non-explosive fertilizer and a pressure cooker filled with wires and firecrackers.
Investigators are confident the attack is not part of a wider threat. New York police have searched parked cars in nearly every city block, looking for other bombs.
"We went through all of the places where we thought there might be a target in all five boroughs, we found nothing out of the ordinary," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, investigators continue to scroll through hours of videotapes captured by Manhattan surveillance cameras. And they are still trying to identify a man seen changing his shirt in an alley about a half block away from the smoking SUV.
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