Rep. Peter King said on Thursday that federal investigators should have notified New York City officials sooner about the plans by the suspects in the Boston Marathon terror bombings to detonate explosives in Times Square.
“My understanding is that the FBI heard this during the interrogation several days ago,” the New York Republican told Jake Tapper on CNN. “I just wish they had notified the city immediately rather than waiting until last night.”
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that they learned of the plot by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, 26, on Wednesday night.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had told them about their “spontaneous” decision to head to Times Square during a second set of interrogations by authorities on Sunday night through Monday morning, Kelly said.
Dzhokhar is being held under heavy guard at a Boston hospital, where he remained in fair condition on Thursday, after his arrest in suburban Boston on Friday. His brother died in a ferocious overnight gun battle with police earlier on Friday.
“Even though it may or may not have been spontaneous, for all we know, there could have been other conspirators out there — and the city should have been alerted,” King told CNN.
“Whether or not the attack was going to happen, New York is the always the No. 1 terrorist target,” he added. “What happened in Boston was tragic, but there’s been 16 plots against New York that have been stopped — and, unfortunately New York, Long Island and Northern New Jersey are the No. 1 terrorist targets in the country.”
King, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee - told Tapper that — while he had no evidence of this — he believed that other domestic co-conspirators remained to be found.
“I just find it very hard to believe that two individuals such as this could have obtained the weapons, the explosives, put it all together, arrange this on their own,” he said. “I believe that there were others involved domestically — either as active conspirators or as facilitators, who knew what was going on and said nothing and looked the other way.”
He added that he suspected that the elder brother, Tamerlan, received terrorism training during a six-month visit to Russia last year.
King was especially troubled that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stopped cooperating with investigators after he was read his Miranda rights by a federal magistrate when he was charged in the Boston blasts on Monday.
Federal investigators had been questioning Tsarnaev for 16 hours when U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler showed up unannounced with a federal prosecutor and public defender, King told Newsday on Thursday.
The FBI thought it had 36 to 48 hours to question Tsarnaev under the pre-Miranda public safety exemption, according to Newsday.
“The interrogation was stopped short — about a third of the way through,” King said. “There’s a lot of questions that weren’t answered, so we don’t know who all was involved. We don’t know what the full plot encompassed — and we don’t know if these other explosives are still around.
“All of that may well have been found out if the interrogation had gone forward instead of being cut so prematurely short.”
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