New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was grilled Sunday over his refusal to call the weekend bombing in Manhattan an act of terror.
Twenty-nine people suffered injuries when an improvised explosive device was detonated in the neighbourhood of Chelsea on Saturday night. After the explosion, authorities conducted a search for additional devices in the area and discovered a pressure cooker with an apparent mobile phone attached to it and wires protruding.
“How can you say there is no link to terrorism when the Inspire magazine published instructions on how to build one of these pressure cooker bombs, like the one used in the Boston Marathon bombing?” a reporter, referencing an online magazine linked to Al Qaeda, asked at a press conference.
De Blasio said it was the job of public service personnel to “analyse the facts” and refused to say the incident was terrorism, a break from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had said earlier in the day, “A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism.”
We must “understand what motivation existed and why this was done and how this was done. Until we have that information, it is not fair for us to give the public a conclusion,” de Blasio said. “Let the law enforcement experts draw the conclusions.”
“New York Gov. Cuomo said this morning that this was an act of terrorism. Does that counteract what you are saying?” a reporter pressed.
“Again, let the law enforcement experts draw the conclusions,” de Blasio replied. “This is the standard that we use here, and I think it’s the right way to go.”
That answer still didn’t quell the press corps.
“When are you prepared to use the word terror?” a reporter asked. “I mean, by the dictionary definition or legal definition — whatever the motivation is, this was an act that harmed many people, the bombing.”
De Blasio, in a stern voice, walked the journalist through the known facts before saying that “it’s important to say what we know and what we don’t know.”
“It could have been something personally motivated. We don’t know yet,” the mayor said. “We will keep the public informed every step of the way, as we get actual real evidence.”
Asked later about the discrepancy between his rhetoric and de Blasio’s, Cuomo told CNN: “Frankly, it’s semantics.”