A week-and-a-bit later, nearly everyone with a keyboard has weighed in on the 1 May 2010 would-be bombing in New York City, so forgive me if I’m late to the party. Amid all the discussions I’ve seen – blah blah domestic radicalization, blah blah al-Qaeda training camp, blah blah Pakistan, blah blah stupid terrorists who can’t even build a bomb properly – there’s one (to my mind) pressing question that remains unanswered: Why?
Or, more properly, why May 1st?
al-Qaeda, the Taliban, et al love to stage attacks on significant dates – 9/11, 7/7, 12/25 (Christmas Day), and arguably the 12/22/01 shoe bombing – or to coincide with local political events – the various 2007 Glasgow and London bombings, and the 2008 Islamabad bombing. Where they’ve broken from this pattern, it’s usually been because of opportunity (i.e. the Bali nightclub bombing was on a Saturday, local time, when the area was the busiest).
May 1st isn’t really a significant date, except to the labor movement in some parts of the world, and the bombing attempt really wasn’t anywhere near any May Day events. And Times Square isn’t really a target of opportunity, per se – especially not at 6:30pm, of all times.
Was South Park a factor? The timing actually works fairly well, but I’m not so sure.
What I do know is that people sure as hell love to (try to) set off bombs in New York City in May.
Thursday May 5th, 2005 – two grenades detonate outside the British Consulate, on the eve of UK elections. (Note the terrorist-friendly date – 5/5/05.)
Monday May 25th, 2009 – a pipe bomb detonates outside a Starbucks.
…and now Saturday May 1st, 2010 – a failed VBIED.
We know who, what, where, when, and how. The government says the guy wanted to “kill Americans”, which kind of almost answers “why”. What I want to know, however, is “Why May 1st?”, something nobody else seems in a big hurry to answer. If you blame South Park, Two days later, or a day earlier, and you could have gotten actual Viacom employees. Discount television, and eight days later, and you could generate all kinds of crazy conspiracy theories by targeting the Cinco de Mayo parade. Hell, four days later and you could kill hundreds of decadent, drunken Cinco de Mayo revelers.
It kind of makes me wonder how much that great boogey-man the Taliban were actually involved. How about you?