FBI declined to pursue NYC bomb plot

2011-11-21 21:14

New York - US authorities declined to pursue a case against an "al-Qaeda sympathiser" accused of plotting to bomb police stations and post offices in the New York area because they believed he was mentally unstable and incapable of pulling it off, two law enforcement officials said on Monday.

New York Police Department investigators sought to get the FBI involved at least twice as their undercover investigation of Jose Pimentel unfolded, the officials said. Both times, the FBI concluded that he wasn't a serious threat, they said.

The FBI concluded that the 27-year-old Pimentel "didn't have the predisposition or the ability to do anything on his own," one of the officials said.

The officials were not authorised to speak about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity. The FBI's New York office declined to comment on Monday.

New York authorities said Pimentel is an "al-Qaeda sympathiser" motivated by terrorist propaganda and resentment of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police had to move quickly to arrest Pimentel on Saturday because he was ready to carry out his plan.

"He was in fact putting this bomb together," Kelly said. "He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb."

His lawyer Joseph Zablocki said his client's behaviour leading up to the arrest was not that of a conspirator trying to conceal some violent scheme. Zablocki said Pimentel was public about his activities and was not trying to hide anything.

"I don't believe that this case is nearly as strong as the people believe," Zablocki said. "He [Pimentel] has this very public online profile... This is not the way you go about committing a terrorist attack."

Authorities characterised him in a different way. The unemployed US citizen was born in the Dominican Republic and later converted to Islam. They said he was energised and motivated to carry out his plan by the September 30 killing of al-Qaeda's US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

Surveillance

"He decided to build the bomb in August of this year, but clearly he jacked up his speed after the elimination of al-Awlaki," Kelly said.

He plotted to bomb police patrol cars and postal facilities, targeted soldiers returning home from abroad, and also talked of bombing a police station in New Jersey.

New York police had him under surveillance for at least a year and were working with a confidential informant; no injury to anyone or damage to property is suspected, Kelly said. In addition, authorities have no evidence that Pimentel was working with anyone else.

"He appears to be a total lone wolf," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad."

Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, was denied bail. The bearded, bespectacled man smiled at times during the proceeding. His mother and brother attended the arraignment, his lawyer said.

Pimentel was accused of having an explosive device on Saturday when he was arrested, one he planned to use against others and property. The charges accuse him of conspiracy going back at least to October 2010 and include first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism, and soliciting support for a terrorist act.

Kelly said a confidential informant had numerous conversations with Pimentel on September 7 in which he expressed interest in building small bombs and targeting banks, government and police buildings.

Pimentel also posted on his website trueislam1.com and on blogs his support of al-Qaeda and belief in jihad, and promoted an online magazine article that described in detail how to make a bomb, Kelly said.

A target

Among his internet postings, the commissioner said, was an article that states: "People have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare."

New York City remains a prime terrorist target a decade after the September 11 attack. Bloomberg said there have been at least 14 foiled plots against the city, including the latest suspected scheme.

The most serious threats came from Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad who tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in 2010 and is now serving a life sentence, and Najibullah Zazi, who targeted the subway system a year earlier. Zazi pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Asked why federal authorities were not involved in the case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr said there was communication with them but his office felt that given the timeline "it was appropriate to proceed under state charges".

Alexis Smith, 22, who lives in an apartment in the same building as Pimentel, said she was shocked that he was a suspect in a terrorist plot. "He was always very courteous to us," she said, adding that Pimentel helped her carry groceries and luggage into the building.

"It's nice to know he was only working alone," she said.

- AP
Read more on:    fbi  |  us  |  us terror threat
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Motoring
 

Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

 
 

Men24.com

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You have the ability to lead and take up campaigns that can sway the crowd and make things happen. There can be a slightly...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.