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Brother told officials NYC was next target
Their plan unraveled only when they realized that a Mercedes sport utility vehicle they had hijacked on April 18, three days after the bombing, did not have enough gasoline for the journey, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
New York has been on heightened alert since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Officials said the Tsarnaev brothers' alleged plan showed America's most populous city remains a magnet for those who want to strike at the United States.
Times Square was the target of an attempted car bombing in May 2010.
A Pakistan-born U.S. citizen was arrested, admitted to the plot and is serving a life prison term.
In the sharpest criticism of President Barack Obama's security policies since the blasts, Senate Republican Lindsey Graham said the Boston bombing attack - which killed three people and injured 264 others - illustrated a "broken" national security system.
"The ultimate blame I think is with the administration," the South Carolina senator said, linking the bombings with last year's killing of a U.S. diplomat during an attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
"Between Benghazi and Boston, to me we're going backward, not forward, in terms of national security," Graham said.
Times Square plan
Kelly said investigators learned of the alleged Times Square plan while questioning the surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, in his hospital bed in Boston.
Tsarnaev has been recovering from his wounds there since being captured last Friday night after an all-day manhunt that shut down much of Boston.
"Questioning of Dzhokhar revealed that he and his brother decided spontaneously on Times Square as a target," Kelly told a news conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "They would drive to Times Square that same night.
"That plan, however, fell apart when they realized that the vehicle that they hijacked was low on gas and ordered the driver to stop at a nearby gas station," Kelly said.
At the time, the men still had six explosive devices, including a pressure-cooker bomb of the type used at the marathon and six pipe bombs, he said.
Family members speak
The father of the brothers said he planned to travel to the United States from Russia to bury his older son, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
"I am going to the United States. I want to say that I am going there to see my son, to bury the older one. I don't have any bad intentions. I don't plan to blow up anything," Anzor Tsarnaev told reporters in Makhachkala, the capital of Russia's Dagestan region.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said investigators might be interested in speaking to the parents.
Anzor Tsarnaev's former wife, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, angrily denied that her son had any role in the attack and criticized police for shooting her 26-year-old son.
Tsarnaeva does not plan to accompany her former husband on his trip.
A warrant for Zubeidat Tsarnaeva's arrest was issued Oct. 25 after she failed to make a court appearance on shoplifting-related charges, according to Natick District Court Clerk Brian Kearney.
Tsarnaeva was arrested in June at a department store on suspicion of shoplifting $1,624 worth of women's dresses.