Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Online Chattering Class Jumps to Conclusions about Rainbow Bridge Explosion

'Strongest materials on earth: 3. Diamonds; 2. Graphene; 1. Passports of alleged terrorist suspects...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) A vehicle exploded at a checkpoint on the American side of a U.S.-Canada bridge in Niagara Falls Wednesday, leaving two people dead and prompting the closing of four border crossings in the area, authorities said.

There was no immediate information the cause of the explosion, but it sparked speculation on both sides of the border.

And after the FBI reportedly deemed the incident as a likely terrorist attack, online pundits were quick to point fingers.

Deep state operative Robert Spencer, who runs the group Jihad Watch, dubiously claimed that an Iranian passport was found near the explosion. This claim—which cited an anonymous Twitter user named Pegida Canada—was quickly picked up by conservative pundit Laura Loomer.

Other Twitter users roasted Loomer for sharing apparent disinformation, noting that similar claims were made about a 9/11 hijacker’s passport somehow being found in the World Trade Center rubble.

“Strongest materials on earth: 3. Diamonds; 2. Graphene; 1. Passports of alleged terrorist suspects,” joked comedian Sean McCarthy.

But elsewhere, another account named “Mats Nilsson” claimed that a Yemeni passport was found outside the burning car.

Meanwhile, others joked that right-wingers would be blamed.

The two deceased people were in the vehicle, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss details of the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

The blast happened on the U.S. side of the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the two countries across the Niagara River. Three other bridges between western New York and Ontario were quickly closed as a precaution, and the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport began security checks on all cars and told passengers to expect additional screenings.

The FBI’s field office in Buffalo said in a statement that it was investigating the blast, and investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also responding to the scene.

Photos and video taken by bystanders and posted on social media showed thick smoke, flames on the pavement and a security booth that had been singed by flames.

Videos showed that the fire was in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection area just east of the main vehicle checkpoint.

Speaking to WGRZ-TV, Mike Guenther said he saw a vehicle speeding toward the crossing from the U.S. side of the border when it swerved to avoid another car, crashed into a fence and exploded.

“All of a sudden he went up in the air and then it was a ball of fire like 30 or 40 feet high,” Guenther told the station. “I never saw anything like it.”

U.S. Attorney General Attorney General Merrick Garland and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul had been briefed on the situation, their offices said.

The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission reported that all four of its crossings — the others are Lewiston, Whirlpool and Peace Bridge — were closed.

About 6,000 vehicles cross the Rainbow Bridge each day, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory. About 5% is truck traffic, according to the federal data.

The bridge, constructed in 1941, is just over 1,440 feet (439 meters) long and has a main span constructed of steel, according to the data.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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