About 12 pounds of powerful C-4 plastic explosives were found in an historic Manhattan graveyard, triggering a massive police response into whether the explosives were discarded or had been buried for some other purpose.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today the explosives had originally been found in the New York City Marble Cemetery in May 2009 by a caretaker who dug down about a foot and discovered a bag containing eight blocks of the explosive compound. The caretaker left the explosives under a tree, Kelly said.
The cache of military or commercial grade explosives was rediscovered Sunday by a volunteer who placed the material in a trash can. The volunteer called police today when acquaintances suggested the material could be dangerous.
The call triggered an investigation into two messages that police feared could have been related to the find.
A rambling note found Sunday suggested something along the lines of "stop putting Christ on 2nd Street." The cemetery, which dates back to 1831, is located on Second Street in Manhattan's lower East Side.
"The note referenced Jesus Christ, and was signed by him," Kelly said. "It was found in an envelope."
The commissioner said that while the note did not initially appear related to the explosive cache, it was a part of the investigation.
In addition, a chalked message on a sidewalk down the street from the cemetery read that "I really hope you find this" is also under investigation for any connection to the find.
Others familiar with the probe said that another avenue being explored is whether the discovery of the explosives was in any way connected to the nearby location of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.
There was no danger from the material exploding, experts said. C-4 is a highly stable compound which requires a booster in order to detonate. Neither fire nor even a gunshot can cause the material to explode.
Most commonly used in demolition or breaching work, it and related plastic explosive compounds are extremely powerful.
Some terror groups, notably the group that attacked the USS Cole, have used C-4 in their attacks.
New York City has been the site of several failed bombing attempts in recent months. Faisal Shahzad admitted planting a bomb in Times Square last May, and four men were arrested last year in what police say was a plot to bomb two synagogues in the Riverdale section of the city.