“Al-Qaida sympathizer” accused of NYC bomb plots

The 27-year-old suspect, Jose Pimental, is described as a "lone wolf," not part of a larger conspiracy

Topics: New York City, New York, Terrorism,

"Al-Qaida sympathizer" accused of NYC bomb plotsMayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to the media at a City Hall press conference, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011, in New York. (Credit: AP/Louis Lanzano)

NEW YORK (AP) — An “al-Qaida sympathizer” accused of plotting to bomb police and post offices in New York City as well as U.S. troops returning home remained in police custody after an arraignment on numerous terrorism-related charges.

Jose Pimentel of Manhattan was described by Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a Sunday news conference announcing Pimentel’s arrest as “a 27-year-old al-Qaida sympathizer” who was motivated by terrorist propaganda and resentment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police had to move quickly to arrest Pimentel on Saturday because he was ready to carry out his plan.

“He was in fact putting this bomb together,” Kelly said. “He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb.”

Ten years after 9/11, New York remains a prime terrorism target. Bloomberg said at least 14 terrorist plots, including the latest alleged scheme, have targeted the city since the Sept. 11 attacks. No attack has been successful, however. Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad is serving a life sentence for trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010.

Kelly said Sunday that Pimentel was energized and motivated to carry out his plan by the Sept. 30 killing of al-Qaida’s U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

“He decided to build the bomb August of this year, but clearly he jacked up his speed after the elimination of al-Awlaki,” Kelly said.

An unemployed U.S. citizen originally from the Dominican Republic, Pimentel was “plotting to bomb police patrol cars and also postal facilities as well as targeted members of our armed services returning from abroad,” Bloomberg said.

New York police had him under surveillance for at least a year and were working with a confidential informant; no injury to anyone or damage to property is alleged, Kelly said. In addition, authorities have no evidence that Pimentel was working with anyone else, the mayor said.

“He appears to be a total lone wolf,” the mayor said. “He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”

At Pimentel’s arraignment, his lawyer Joseph Zablocki said his client’s behavior leading up to the arrest was not that of a conspirator trying to conceal some violent scheme. Zablocki said Pimentel was public about his activities and was not trying to hide anything.



“I don’t believe that this case is nearly as strong as the people believe,” Zablocki said. “He (Pimentel) has this very public online profile. … This is not the way you go about committing a terrorist attack.”

Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, was denied bail and remained in custody. The bearded, bespectacled man wore a black T-shirt and black drawstring pants and smiled at times during the proceeding. His mother and brother attended the arraignment, Zablocki said.

Pimentel is accused of having an explosive device Saturday when he was arrested, one he planned to use against others and property to terrorize the public. The charges accuse him of conspiracy going back at least to October 2010, and include first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism, and soliciting support for a terrorist act.

Bloomberg said at the news conference that Pimentel represents the type of threat FBI Director Robert Mueller has warned about as U.S. forces erode the ability of terrorists to carry out large scale attacks.

“This is just another example of New York City because we are an iconic city … this is a city that people would want to take away our freedoms gravitate to and focus on,” Bloomberg said.

Kelly said a confidential informant had numerous conversations with Pimentel on Sept. 7 in which he expressed interest in building small bombs and targeting banks, government and police buildings.

Pimentel also posted on his website trueislam1.com and on blogs his support of al-Qaida and belief in jihad, and promoted an online magazine article that described in detail how to make a bomb, Kelly said.

Among his Internet postings, the commissioner said, was an article that states: “People have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare.”

The New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division was involved in the arrest. Kelly said Pimentel spent most of his years in Manhattan and lived about five years in Schenectady. He said police in the Albany area tipped New York City police off to Pimentel’s activities.

Asked why federal authorities were not involved in the case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said there was communication with them but his office felt that given the timeline “it was appropriate to proceed under state charges.”

About 1,000 of the city’s roughly 35,000 officers are assigned each day to counterterrorism operations. The NYPD also sends officers overseas to report on how other cities deal with terrorism. Through federal grants and city funding, the NYPD has spent millions of dollars on technology to outfit the department with the latest tools — from portable radiation detectors to the network of hundreds of cameras that can track suspicious activity.

Alexis Smith, 22, who lives in an apartment in the same building as Pimentel, said she was shocked that he was a suspect in a terrorist plot. “He was always very courteous to us,” she said, adding that Pimentel helped her carry groceries and luggage into the building.

“It’s nice to know he was only working alone,” she said.

___

Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz and Colleen Long and AP video journalist David R. Martin contributed to this report from New York. AP writer Samantha Gross also contributed to this report.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.

    Domino's

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.

    Arby's/Facebook

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.

    KFC

    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    Pizzagamechangers.com

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.

    7-Eleven

    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments are not enabled for this story.