US al-Qaeda supporter planned to use pipe-bomb to attack US troops, federal workers
prosecutors charged a Manhattan man and alleged al-Qaeda sympathizer with
plotting to bomb government offices and police vehicles in the metropolitan
area as part of an effort to kill federal employees and military personnel.
Pimentel, who police said was under surveillance for more than a year, was
motivated in part by the US government’s killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a US
citizen affiliated with the terrorist group whose online magazine, “Inspire,”
published bomb-making instructions, prosecutors said.
unemployed resident of Washington Heights and a native of the Dominican
Republic, Pimentel’s arrest yesterday followed by almost two months New York
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s statement that authorities were on alert
for revenge attacks following al-Awlaki’s killing in a drone attack in Yemen.
The cleric had followers in the US, including in New York City, Kelly said Sept
suspect was a so-called lone wolf motivated by his own resentment of the presence
of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as inspired by al-Qaeda
propaganda,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said of Pimentel last night at a press
conference. “He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”
said the arrest foiled the 14th terrorist plot targeting New York City since
2001. Some have involved individual plotters or were conspiracies brought to
light as a result of sting operations by federal investigators.
Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to driving an
explosives-laden car into New York’s Times Square in May 2010. Najibullah Zazi
pleaded guilty in February 2010 to supporting al-Qaeda and conspiring to use a
weapon of mass destruction in a 2009 plot to detonate bombs on New York
subways. And a jury convicted four men of planning to bomb Bronx synagogues in
May 2009 and obtain heat-seeking missiles to fire at military aircraft.
was charged with one count of criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of
terrorism, two counts of conspiracy and one count of soliciting or providing
support for an act of terrorism, according to the complaint. He faces as long
as 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the most serious counts.
said Pimentel, also identified in the criminal complaint as Muhammad Yusuf,
picked up the pace of his alleged plot after the assassination of al-Awlaki.
he attempted to contact al-Awlaki,” Kelly said at the press conference. “The
death of Anwar al-Awlaki is what motivated him and increased his tempo
talked with a confidential police informant about his plans, according to the
complaint. In a Sept 7 recorded conversation, Pimentel “clearly expressed” to
the informant his intent to build small bombs and to target government
establishments, police buildings and banks, prosecutors said.
allegedly told the informant they could buy the bomb components at a Home Depot
store, prosecutors said. On Oct 23, New York police officers followed Pimentel
and the informant to a Manhattan “99-cent” store, which generally sell a
variety of low-cost house-wares and other items. The suspect bought a clock
similar to one pictured in the Inspire article, “How to Build a Bomb in the
Kitchen of Your Mom,” according to the complaint.
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days later, the informant and Pimentel went to a Home Depot outlet in the
Bronx, where they bought work gloves, decorative lights and elbow piping, again
following the instructions in the Inspire magazine article, according to
also gave the informant matches, batteries and drill bits, items either listed
in the article or needed to build the bomb, according to the complaint.
cases are traditionally handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and US prosecutors.
A decade ago, New York legislators passed laws allowing such prosecutions in
New York state courts, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said at the
said the New York police department took control of the case and made the
arrest without federal support because the suspect appeared too far along in
an assessment process that’s engaged in by the federal authorities with the US
Attorney,” Kelly said. “We just believed we couldn’t let it go any further; we
had to act yesterday.”
said his office had communicated with federal authorities.
collective belief was that it was appropriate to proceed under state charges,”
Sullivan, a spokeswoman for Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, and James
Margolin, a spokesman for the New York office of the FBI, declined to comment.
was held without bail after his arraignment late last night, the Associated
to the complaint filed by Vance’s office, Pimentel has maintained a website
since October 2010 called “True Islam” that contains a link to the Inspire
article. The website “strongly advocates the commission of violence against US
citizens” and lists army bases, police stations and airports as “legitimate
targets,” according to the complaint.
4, Pimentel was recorded at his apartment showing the informant how to build
the bomb, following the instructions in the article, the complaint states.
19, Pimentel was recorded on video at his apartment drilling holes into three
pipes as per the instructions in the Inspire article, and was subsequently
arrested by police, who seized the bomb components, according to the complaint.
his arrest, Pimentel told police that Islamic law requires true Muslims to
“wage war” against the US in return for its invasion of Muslim lands, which
includes assassinations of figures ranging from civilian government workers to
politicians, according to prosecutors.
government said in court papers that Pimentel admitted buying the components
for the bomb, and said that he was about an hour away from finishing
construction of the explosive when he was arrested.