New York City police, known as “New York’s Finest,” arrested a would-be Islamist jihadist on Saturday November 19th, who was plotting to kill GIs returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and to bomb government targets such as police cars and post offices. Muslim convert Jose Pimentel, a 27-year-old U.S. naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic, was stopped just one hour before his homemade pipe bomb equipped with nails to act as shrapnel would have been operational, according to New York Police Department officials.
“We weren’t going to wait around to figure out what he wanted do with his bombs,” a law enforcement official said. “He was in Harlem about an hour from actually having assembled the bombs,” but had all the “unassembled components ready to go.”
Pimentel’s arrest was announced on Sunday at a press conference where New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. provided details to reporters regarding the plot, the explosive device, and Pimentel’s background and motivations.
Pimentel, who was also known as Muhammad Yusuf and reportedly wanted to change his name to Osama Hussein after his two “heroes” Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, was charged under a New York State anti-terrorism law. While Pimentel was arraigned in Manhattan criminal court, Kelly and Vance stressed that the investigation of Pimentel’s actions and his arrest had been coordinated with federal officials.
Pimentel said after his arrest that “Islamic law obligated all true Muslims to wage war against the United States.” He received inspiration for his deadly plans from the writings of American-born jihadist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last month in Yemen by a U.S. drone attack. It was al-Awlaki’s death that evidently pushed Pimentel over the edge to accelerate his operation, said Ray Kelly.
“We knew for the last two years, he’s been reading a lot of jihadist information and talked a lot of inflammatory rhetoric,” Kelly explained. “But it appears at this juncture the death of Anwar al-Awlaki motivated him and made him increase his tempo.”
Bloomberg noted that Pimentel’s planned attack was the 14th terror-attack plot targeting New York since 9/11.
Some plots were hatched overseas, such as the 2010 attempted car bombing in Times Square that was directed by the al Qaeda-affiliated Pakistani Taliban. The car bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty, had been in contact with al-Awlaki over the Internet, was receiving money from abroad to finance the car bombing and had received a series of calls from Pakistan directly before and after he purchased the car intended to serve as the car bomb.
Pimentel, on the other hand, was evidently a 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.
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