I find these details of interest:
- The bomb appears to have been put together in a deliberately amateurish fashion, which lends credence to the comforting 'one crazed nut working alone' idea. Not only that, but the vehicle was parked in a 'no standing' zone and thus easily noticed.
- The perpetrator made a number of amateurish mistakes, such as buying a used car via Craigslist and using an easily trackable disposable cell phone. As a contrast, the first World Trade Center bombers simply rented a truck.
- The perpetrator was also a naturalized American citizen which automatically required him to be given Miranda rights, as opposed to an enemy combatant captured in Afghanistan. Again, this means that he can claim he acted alone and need not give out any information he doesn't want to.
This whole affair strikes me as a 'feeler' or diversion strike to see how easy it would be to pull off and how our security responds. Based on that, I can see where the jihadis would count this as a success of sorts.
The bomber managed to get his bomb unnoticed into his target location, and a properly made fuel-air bomb would have been spectacularly successful. Not only that, but even with the amateur mistakes that were made, the bomber's passport had not been flagged by the FBI. So he was able to buy an airline ticket and board a plane to make his escape that was minutes from taxiing down the runway.
Also of interest was the way the NYPD corralled pedestrians in several areas and had them standing there for extended periods of time. Any Israeli security expert ( or for that matter, any member of our military with combat experience in Iraq) could have told you that this is an extremely dangerous practice. It is standard operating procedure for the jihadis to set up several bombs in a given area timed and located to catch people in the vicinity - either first responders or civilians moving away from the initial explosion. That's exactly how it was done in the London tube bombings, with multiple explosions timed to hit people who escaped from the first ones.
New York's finest followed the book, and may have unwittingly provided a blueprint to the jihadis for the next attack. According to every expert in the field the best policy is to get pedestrians moving briskly through the area to avoid secondary strikes.
There will undoubtedly be a next time, and our enemies will have gained valuable intel.