The FBI is offering $65,000 for information leading to the people responsible for a 2008 predawn attack on a military recruiting center in New York’s Times Square that may be connected to two unsolved bombings at consulates in the city.
The Times Square attack took place early in the morning of March 6, 2008. A bicyclist left an ammunition can half filled with black powder -- a device “commonly found on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan” -- outside the center, lit a fuse and rode away, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. The blue Ross bicycle was later found in a trash container near Madison Avenue and 38th Street.
Nobody was hurt in the bombing, which punched a hole in the center’s glass wall, although the attack could have caused “significant casualties” if people were nearby, the FBI said. Details of the attack are similar to two other unsolved bombings, one at the British consulate in May 2005 and one at the Mexican consulate in October 2007. No one was hurt in those incidents.
In all three incidents, the devices were delivered by a person and detonated between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., the FBI said. The suspect on the bicycle in the Times Square attack appeared to be working alone, although he may have had a surveillance team of as many as five people in the area at the time, the FBI said.
Someone riding a bicycle threw two small explosive devices over a fence at the Mexican consulate, police said. In the incident at a midtown office building that housed the British consulate, explosives blew an hourglass-shaped hole in a glass panel between two revolving doors, police said.
“Someone, somewhere, knows something about a bomber who’s still on the run,” George Venizelos, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s New York office, said in a statement.
The suspect in the Times Square attack was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt and pants of an unknown color, and a more detailed description couldn’t be provided, said the FBI, which released new video of the suspect in the incident and a picture of the device.
A Brooklyn, New York, man, Gerald Koch, was jailed last month for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury probing the Times Square attack, Susan V. Tipograph, his attorney, said in a telephone interview.
Koch, who isn’t a target of the grand jury probe and has been offered immunity from prosecution, has declined to testify since he was first subpoenaed in 2009, Tipograph said. U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan in Manhattan on May 21 found Koch in contempt and ordered him jailed, Tipograph said.
Koch, 24, is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the federal jail in Lower Manhattan, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as “unknown.” Koch went to jail as a “matter of principle” because he knows nothing about the Times Square incident, Tipograph said.
“The government knows that he knows nothing about this bombing,” Tipograph said in a telephone interview. “He didn’t know it in 2009 and he doesn’t know it now.”
Koch, a former student at the New School, said in a statement that the government told his lawyers in 2009 that authorities believed Koch was in a bar in 2008 or 2009 where another patron indicated “knowledge of who had committed the bombing.”
Koch said he “had no recollection of any such incident” and that the second subpoena is part of a “fishing expedition” to gain information about his “personal beliefs and political associations,” according to his statement, a copy of which is posted on a website seeking support for Koch that describes him as an “anarchist and legal activist.”
Koch said in his statement that he believes the grand juries are being used to get information about his friends and loved ones and activists for whom he has provided legal support.
“My decision to stay silent in defense of individual agency will most likely result in incarceration for a period up to 18 months,” Koch said in his statement. “I accept this recompense, understanding that in doing so I will reinforce a tradition of defending individual rights in the face of state repression.”
Julie Bolcer, a spokeswoman for the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on Koch’s case.
The appeals case is U.S. v. Koch, 13-2271, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).