27-year old al-Qaeda sympathizer Jose Pimentel, also known as “Muhammad Yusuf,” was busted as he worked on assembling a bomb this weekend. He had some big plans, which he felt compelled to post on the Internet and discuss with confidential informants, as relayed by the New York Post:
Among his Internet postings, [Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly] said, was an article that states: “People have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare.”
Pimentel discussing plans to make a bombs on Sept. 7 and said he wanted to target government buildings, police stations and banks, in a conversation with a confidential informant that was recorded by police, according to the complaint.
By October 18 Pimentel allegedly had moved on to talking about blowing up returning soldiers and their families. He then bought the elbow piping joints, batteries, matches Christmas lights and other materials he’d need to make the bombs at a Bronx Home Depot, and began practicing making the devices over the following weeks, police said.
Pimentel’s open boasting of his plans was a major factor leading to the conclusion that he was, in the words of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a “total lone wolf” who was “not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”
That’s an interesting way to put it, given that Pimentel was armed and inspired from abroad. He used to be content with a lot of jihadi water-cooler talk about how “people have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare,” but was moved to commit actual terrorist attacks by the death of al-Qaeda guru Anwar al-Awlaki, who happened to be driving his car right where a Predator drone was dropping its missiles last month.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Pimentel “followed instructions from Inspire Magazine” to construct a bomb out of match scrapings, Christmas tree lights, and batteries. That would be the al-Qaeda magazine edited by Samir Khan, the young protégé of Awlaki who was killed along with him. You may recall the Obama Administration made a point of apologizing to Khan’s parents for his death. At least they can take some comfort from knowing his work lives on.
Mayor Bloomberg said the device Pimentel was working on “would have killed a lot of people.” The police built a working duplicate of his bomb, and used it to blow the doors off a car.
Fox News says the FBI has been briefed, but the case will remain a state matter for now:
The New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division was involved in the arrest. [Police Commissioner] Kelly said Pimentel spent most of his years in Manhattan and lived about five years in Schenectady. He said police in Albany tipped New York City police off to Pimentel’s activities.
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.”
The New York Post has some more details of the would-be bomber’s background:
Pimentel is a native of the Dominican Republic but is a legal US citizen, Bloomberg said. He lived most of his life in Manhattan but spent five years in Schenectady, where he first came to the attention of law enforcement through postings he made on a website associated with al-Awlaki in 2009.
The UK Daily Mail notes that “Muhammad Yusuf” was apparently Pimentel’s second choice for a Muslim name. He was originally planning to go with “Osama Hussein, the name of his two heroes, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.” The Daily Mail also assembled a handy list of post-9/11 terror plots against New York City, in case you’d like to keep score:
March 2003: Lyman Faris was taken into custody after police learned he was plotting to destroy New York’s iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
August 2004: Dhiren Barot was arrested in the U.K. for his role in several terror plots in the U.S., including one that targeted the New York Stock Exchange.
August 2004: Shahawar Matin Siraj was one of several suspects who plotted to place a bomb in the Herald Square subway station in midtown Manhattan.
July 2006: Assem Hammoud was arrested and accused of conspiring with foreign militants to destroy train tunnels connecting New York City with New Jersey.
June 2007: Authorities uncovered a plot by four men to blow up jet fuel supply tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The ringleader of the gang was Russell Defreitas, an ex-JFK employee.
May 2009: James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen were arrested in a plot to blow up synagogues in New York City, as well as trying to buy missiles to shoot down planes.
September 2009: Coffee cart operator Najibullah Zazi was arrested in an elaborate plot to attack the New York City subway system in a way similar to the London Underground attacks.
May 2010: Naturalized U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad tried to detonate an explosives-laden Jeep he parked in Times Square. Shahzad was later arrested at JFK Airport while trying to flee to Dubai.
May 2011: Ahmed Ferhani of Algeria and Muhammad Mamdouh of Morocco were picked up by the NYPD after trying to buy assorted ammunition to attack a New York City synagogue.
Now we can add Jose Pimentel, aka Muhammad Yusuf, aka Osama Hussein, aka The Total Lone Wolf, to the scorecard.