The Times Square Bomber: What we thought we knew

As the story of the failed Times Square bombing has unfolded, a number of theories and even purported facts have fallen by the wayside: The bomber was a “lone wolf.” Or maybe he was actually trained in Pakistan.  The bomber was a “white male.” Or a light-skinned South Asian.  The guy taking off his shirt ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

As the story of the failed Times Square bombing has unfolded, a number of theories and even purported facts have fallen by the wayside:

The bomber was a "lone wolf." Or maybe he was actually trained in Pakistan.  The bomber was a "white male." Or a light-skinned South Asian.  The guy taking off his shirt in the video was involved. Probably not. Vietnam veteran Lance Orton first noticed the smoking van. Or maybe it was Senegalese immigrant Aliou Niasse.   The bombing was in response to South Park's depiction of the Prophet Muhammed. Or U.S. foreign policy. Faisal Shahzad was arrested with two other men. But they didn't do anythingFaisal Shahzad is from Karachi. Or maybe it was Peshawar. Or Kashmir. Faisal Shahzad's father was a Pakistani military official. Or maybe it was his grandfatherThe Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attempt. Until they denied it. But it still kinda seems like they did it.

These are just off the top of my head. Readers are invited to add any others that I missed.

As the story of the failed Times Square bombing has unfolded, a number of theories and even purported facts have fallen by the wayside:

These are just off the top of my head. Readers are invited to add any others that I missed.

Moral of the story: more reporting in the wake of an event like this doesn’t necessarily mean more reliable information. Take it all with a grain of salt.  

    Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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