NY: Bomb suspect faces terror charges

Police arrest man trying to build bomb to use against soldiers, following instructions from al-Qaida magazine.

November 21, 2011 03:02
1 minute read.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg R 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Andrew Burton)

NEW YORK - New York police arrested a follower of late Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on suspicion of building a pipe bomb he planned to use against US soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

Jose Pimentel, 27, was charged with three terrorism-related counts and two other counts, court documents said.

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A US citizen born in the Dominican Republic, Pimentel was arrested on Saturday in a Manhattan apartment while putting the bomb together, police said. They called him a "lone wolf" who had converted to Islam and became a radical.

In an interview with New York police, Pimentel admitted he "took active steps to build the bomb, including shaving the match heads and drilling holes in the pipes" and was "one hour away from completing it," said the criminal complaint filed by the Manhattan District Attorney.

Pimentel, who has not been charged federally, faces life in prison if convicted.

He was under surveillance since May 2009 and considered New York police cars, a New Jersey police station and US post office among his potential targets, officials said.

As a reader of the online magazine Inspire published by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Pimentel took instructions from an article "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told a news conference.

"We think an event that really set him off was the elimination of Anwar al-Awlaki," Kelly said. "His actions became a lot more intense after September 30."

A US drone strike killed Awlaki, a US citizen, in Yemen in late September, ending a two-year hunt. US intelligence called him the "chief of external operations" for al-Qaida's Yemen branch and a Internet-savvy propagandist.

Kelly said Pimentel "talked about changing his name to Osama Hussein to celebrate his heroes Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."

The criminal complaint said a police informant recorded meetings with Pimentel over a period of months and accompanied him as he bought materials for the bomb, including a drill and a clock.

The information from the police could not be independently confirmed.

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