NYC Bomb Plotter Pleads to Terrorism Charge
MANHATTAN (CN) - New York City bomb plotter Jose Pimentel pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a state terrorism charge.
"Manhattan continues to be the symbol of much that terrorists hate about the United States, so we remain a principal world target for terrorist attacks, both at home and from abroad," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement.
Vance likened Pimentel's case to that of synagogue bomb plotter Ahmed Ferhani, who is serving a 10-year sentence following his guilty plea.
While some saw the cases as examples of the dangers of so-called "lone-wolf" terrorism, others claimed that they represent the entrapment of Muslims into terrorism crimes by confidential informants involved in the plots they later disrupt.
Vance and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton both fell into the former camp.
"Pimentel's conviction, and Ferhani's before him, reminds us that the threat against us from home-grown terrorists is very real," Vance said.
Bratton added: "This case highlights the well-established efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors in bringing about the arrest of a dangerous individual. This was a lone wolf who formulated a significant part of his terror plot through the use of the Internet."
In 2004, Pimentel moved to Schenectady, N.Y., converted to Islam and started using the names "Muhammad Yousuf" and "Yusuf."
He was arrested about a year later for buying a computer with a stolen credit card that he swiped from a customer as a Circuit City employee.
According to the indictment, Pimentel operated jihadist websites roughly around this time advocating violence against the United States. He also allegedly disseminated articles from al-Qaida's Inspire Magazine such as "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" and lengthy manuals about explosives.
The indictment describes how Pimentel plotted an attack with the confidential informant at the informant's apartment on Aug. 13, 2011.
Over the next several months, the pair's operation included sharing information, meeting in each other's homes, and driving to Home Depot and Target to buy parts for pipe bombs.
Pimentel allegedly stole $100 from his uncle to purchase crude bomb-making ingredients, such as Christmas lights, a clock, pipe elbows, a battery and a light bulb.
The informant taped Pimentel saying: "We really have no excuses as Muslims here. You know, like, as jihadi Muslims in the West, we don't have any excuse for not to be blowing shit up and being, 'doing like how we doing, bro.' At the end of the day, you know what I'm saying, when you can make a bomb with like 20 to 30 to 40 dollars," prosecutors say.
The twosome allegedly finished their first live circuit on Nov. 19, 2011.
That day, Pimentel was recorded as saying, "You know we could just take down a building with that, with one of them joints that we making anyways. All we got to do is put it in the, in the basement," prosecutors say.
Authorities arrested Pimentel the next day, and he was eventually indicted on five weapons possession counts. His guilty plea closes the book on more than two years of pretrial preparations.
Pimentel faces a maximum 16 years in state prison and five years of supervised release when sentenced on March 25.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.