New York City Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference last night with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and other officials to announce the arrest of Jose Pimentel, a 27-year-old Muslim convert of Hispanic origin living in Manhattan. Pimentel was arrested on state terrorism-related statutes yesterday in Washington Heights, New York City, by the NYPD and faces three charges including conspiracy, weapons possession, and soliciting support for a terrorist act.
Pimentel had been on the NYPD Intelligence Division’s radar since May of 2009 but Commissioner Kelly said that it was Pimentel’s transition from espousing radical Islamic views to deciding to carry out violent attacks that led to the NYPD’s heightened response and the involvement of an NYPD informant in the case to assist in the prosecution. Described by the Mayor as an “al Qaeda sympathizer,” the suspect is accused of assembling pipe bombs with the intention of attacking police stations, post offices, and soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Mayor and the Commissioner presented a video illustrating the destruction that the bomb Pimentel was building would have caused. As the conference room grew quiet, the video showed a small car in a grassy field for a few seconds. Then a blast occurs, blowing the roof off the car and igniting it in flames. Reporters were then shown a duplicate that was used in the demonstration, an elbow pipe wired with a timing device, that the suspect was allegedly planning to detonate.
Throughout the presser, many comments were made regarding the suspect’s affinity for al-Qaeda, particularly the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula branch. In his opening statement, Commissioner Kelly stated that Pimentel was a follower of radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed two months ago in a US drone strike.
Pimentel is said to have constructed the bombs by using guidelines from AQAP’s English-language radical magazine “Inspire,” specifically an article entitled “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” He is alleged to have bought the components for the bombs from hardware stores such as Home Depot, but changed locations and spread out the purchases over time, so as to not draw attention to his plot. “The suspect was a so-called ‘lone wolf’, motivated by his own resentment and inspired by al-Qaeda propaganda”, Bloomberg said.
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