FBI passed on taking down terror plotter Jose Pimentel TWICE before NYPD busted him

Nov 22, 2011 Issues: Counterterrorism

Feds not impressed with Internet rantings

NY Daily News -- by Rocco Parascandola, Greg Smith & Tracy Connor

The feds twice passed on taking down accused terror plotter Jose Pimentel, leaving the NYPD to bust him after being confronted with "an imminent threat."
 
 The FBI and federal prosecutors were unimpressed by Jose Pimentel's radical pedigree and Internet rantings, deciding he was a big talker who couldn't carry out his plans without help, sources said.
 
 But when city cops arrested the Muslim convert over the weekend, he allegedly was drilling holes into pipes with the help of a jihadist bomb-making blueprint.
 
 "No question in my mind that we had to take this case down," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday. "There was an imminent threat.
 
 "All you have to do is look at this young man's blog to see the violent rhetoric and you see the evidence."
 
 Pimentel, a divorced deadbeat dad with a petty-crime history, had been on the NYPD radar since 2009, when Albany cops tipped them to his radical views.
 
 At the time, he lived upstate but he moved back to Manhattan early last year.
 
 By September, his blog was so full of anti-American bombast and hints of violence that a confidential informant began working the case.
 
 The feds were kept up to date as the alleged plot to blow up police cars and post offices progressed from talk to buying supplies at 99-cent stores and a Bronx Home Depot - with the assistance of the informant.
 
 But in a replay of a different terrorism case in Queens earlier this year, the FBI and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office took a pass.
 
 It took several weeks for Pimentel to amass the components specified in the manual "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," officials say.
 
 The criminal complaint outlines how the informant was with him when he bought some of the items. The suspect worked on the device at the informant's apartment.
 
 On Saturday, he was an hour away by his own account from creating a functional explosive when cops grabbed him at the informant's apartment, cops said.
 
 Kelly went straight to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance for the go-ahead.
 
 After the arrest, the NYPD released a video of cops detonating a replica of Pimentel's contraption to show the public - and maybe the feds, too - that it could kill.
 
 An FBI source called it "a poke in our eye."
 
 The FBI and federal prosecutors had no comment. But Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Pete King heaped praise on the NYPD for flying solo.
 
 "The NYPD is doing the federal government's job in New York City," Rep. Pete King said, demanding anti-terrorism funding not be cut.
 
 "The terrorist movement is changing its tactics. They are recruiting more lone wolves."
 
 Pimentel's arrest marked the second time this year that the city busted terrorist wannabes after the FBI turned up its nose, because it had no faith in the confidential informant the police used.
 
 In May, two Queens men were accused of plotting to dress up like Hasidic Jews and unleash slaughter at synagogues. A grand jury declined to indict them on the most serious charges, though they still face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
 
 The criminal complaint against Pimentel says the Dominican-born U.S. citizen intended to use his bombs on soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, NYPD cruisers, a police station in Bayonne, N.J., and postal facilities.
 
 Asked why Bayonne was singled out, Mayor Bloomberg admitted it was "perplexing." "Bayonne's a nice city," he said. "I think it does go to show that every place does have risks. Having said that, the major risks are in New York City."