Terror suspect Jose Pimentel plotted to kill cops and soldiers with bombs...

Nov 21, 2011 Issues: Counterterrorism

Terror suspect Jose Pimentel plotted to kill cops and soldiers with bombs he was building in Manhattan apartment, authorities say

Suspect accused of using Al Qaeda recipe to build bombs

NY Daily News -- by Alison Gendar, Bill Hutchinson, & Rocco Parascandola

A lone wolf with an anti-American grudge was charged Sunday with plotting to kill cops and soldiers with bombs he was building in his Manhattan apartment from an Al Qaeda recipe, officials said.

Jose Pimentel was within an hour of finishing a powerful pipe bomb when the NYPD busted him as he worked at a Harlem apartment of a police informant at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Pimentel, 27, of Manhattanville, planned to test three bombs on mailboxes and was plotting to eventually use explosives on soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kelly said Pimentel, an American citizen born in the Dominican Republic, also planned to bomb NYPD cruisers, a police station in Bayonne, N.J., and postal facilities.

Pimentel, who went by the alias Muhammad Yusuf, told an informant posing as an Al Qaeda sympathizer he would show “there was mujahedeen in the city ready to fight jihad here.”

“The 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 Bloomberg said at a press conference Sunday night, adding Pimentel apparently had no links to an organized Al Qaeda cell.

Kelly said NYPD intelligence officers had been monitoring the suspect since May 2009, when he lived in Schenectady and mouthed off about wanting to go to Yemen and train to “become a martyr in the name of jihad.”

Pimentel openly pledged support for Al Qaeda on his own website, TrueIslam1.com.

“He talked about changing his name to Osama Hussein to celebrate his heroes, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein,” Kelly said.

Pimentel is charged with criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism, conspiracy and soliciting support for an act of terrorism.

He was being held without bail Sunday night following arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court.

“I don’t believe this case is nearly as strong as the public is being made to believe,” said his court-appointed attorney, Joseph Zablocki.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance plans to seek an indictment by the end of the week.

Kelly said Pimentel was a follower of Anwar al—Awlaki, the U.S.-born jihadist cleric killed in September in a CIA drone strike in Yemen.

“The death of al-Awlaki, that is what set him off and turned him from someone who talks about jihad to someone who builds bombs in his apartment,” said Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Vance said Pimentel was following a bomb-making recipe he found in Inspire magazine, an online recruitment publication for Al Qaeda.

The recipe was titled “Open Source Jihad: Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom.”

“His stated desire to attack our servicemen and women as they return from Iraq and Afghanistan could have come from an Al Qaeda playbook,” Vance said.

Officials showed a video of a four-door Mazda being blown to shreds by three elbow-pipe bombs similar to those Pimentel was building.

Since mid-October, Pimentel had been purchasing parts for his bombs at a Home Depot in the Bronx and at a 99-cent store in Manhattan, Kelly said.

“He was a guy with a lot of free time on his hands,” a police souce added. “As much as you don’t want to take a guy like this seriously, you have to. ”

In a Nov. 4 video, he is seen following instructions to scrape 700 matchheads and use the powder in explosives he planned to pack with nails.

Over the weekend, he began drilling holes in an elbow joint, which he connected with wires to an alarm clock, Christmas tree lights and 9-volt battery.

He told cops he “was about one hour away from completing it” when they arrested him.

Pimentel, a divorced father, lived with his 63-year-old uncle in a fifth-floor apartment on W. 137th St. near Broadway.

“I don’t know anything,” said his uncle Luis Severino, adding that his nephew moved in with him about two years ago after getting a divorce. “The only change I noticed in him is that he started following the Muslim religion.”