New York and other US cities are on high terror alert, debkafile's counter-terror sources report, after the failed car bomb attempt to blow up Times Square, New York, Saturday night, May 1. The Nissan SUV parked on 45th Street started smoking but did not explode, causing police to evacuate the heart of Times Square, Manhattan. Police and anti-terror agencies have mounted an exhaustive search for the perpetrator and additional potential explosive devices.
Our terror experts note the similarity in methods of operation between the failed Times Square attack on May, and two previous al Qaeda attempts to cause massive loss of American life in the past - both on, or around ,Christmas:

On December 22, 2002, the British terrorist Richard Reid, who was wrestled to the floor by the passengers of a flight about to land in Los Angeles before he could detonate the device hidden in his shoe, and the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who failed to trigger the explosives hidden in his pants on an airliner coming in to land in Detroit, on Dec. 25, 2009.
In this latest incident too, the terrorist managed to park an SUV loaded with an improvised bomb in Time Square, one of the most crowded spaces in the world on a Saturday night, and ignite the detonator.
But no explosion occurred. Mayor Mike Bloomberg said: "This could have been a deadly event." He also said the electric wiring of the device "looked amateurish."
This description exactly matches the bungled efforts of the would-be martyrs Reid and Abdulmutallab. It suggests that their al Qaeda masters have not been able to bring the new crop of jihadis up to professional terrorist standards. It is also possible that the Nissan SUV was supposed to blow up in another part of Manhattan and the perpetrator abandoned it on Times Square prematurely when he saw smoke coming out of his improvised device.
Our terror experts doubt that he was a loner. Surveillance was needed to locate the bomb vehicle and steal it from the used car junkyard, several hands must have assembled the materials and prepared the explosive device, and his lightning disappearance indicates that a getaway car must have been on hand to whisk him away from the scene before the police arrived.