US officials say brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly planned an attack in New York in the days after the Boston bombings. Police say the plot was only abandoned because the pair did not have enough fuel.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly on Thursday said the apprehended suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had told interrogators that he and his brother Tamerlan hatched the second attack plan spontaneously.
The brothers made the decision after the FBI shared information identifying the brothers on the Thursday that followed the April 15 bombing, Kelly said. However, the police chief added, the scheme came undone when the pair found they did not have enough gasoline in their stolen black Mercedes SUV to make the journey.
Kelly said that the pair had five pipe bombs and a pressure-cooker explosive, like the ones used in Boston, with them in the vehicle.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the events represented a close call for the city, with the pair said to have been planning an attack in Times Square.
"We don't know if we would have been able to stop the terrorists had they arrived here from Boston," Bloomberg said. "We're just thankful that we didn't have to find out that answer."
'A horrific reminder'
Bloomberg said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had confessed the plan to FBI agents from his hospital bed, calling it a "horrific reminder that we remain targets for terrorists."
New York has been on heightened alert since the September 11, 2001 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center. In May 2010, Times Square was the target of an attempted car bombing. A Pakistani-born US citizen admitted to the plot and is currently serving a life sentence.
The brothers allegedly made their snap decision to go to New York on the Thursday after the Boston attack. The night ended in a shootout, with one policeman killed and another seriously wounded.
Tamerlan, 26, was subsequently killed in the shootout with police, while 19-year-old Dzhokhar was found within 24 hours hiding in a boat in a suburban backyard, in a critically injured state and taken to an area hospital. On Monday, the US Marshals Service said Dzhokhar had been transported to a prison at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.
Three people died in the Boston bombing, with a further 264 reported injured. The ethnically-Chechen brothers moved to the US in 2003 and became US residents.
rc/kms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)