Friday 24 November 2017

Al-Qaeda 'lone wolf' was hours away from completing bombs for US attacks

Jon Swaine

A "LONE wolf" al-Qaeda sympathiser living with his mother in New York was arrested an hour before completing bombs for attacks on US troops, police and government officials, it is alleged.

Jose Pimentel was seized by police after being filmed converting pipes into casings for bombs that could have killed dozens in New York and New Jersey, Mayor Michael Bloomberg claimed.



He was allegedly plotting to avenge the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical Islamist cleric, after reading an article in an al-Qaeda magazine titled "How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom".



"The NYPD remains focused on preventing another terrorist attack," Mr Bloomberg told a late-night press conference. "This is just another case where our precautions paid off."



However, doubts were raised about the severity of the alleged plot, after it emerged the FBI declined to take on the case, having concluded Mr Pimentel had neither the "predisposition or the ability" to carry it out.



A 27-year-old US citizen born in the Dominican Republic, Mr Pimentel is a Muslim convert also known as Muhammad Yusuf. He has spent most of his life in New York and once allegedly considered changing his name to Osama Hussein, to honour his "heroes" Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.



He lives with his mother, Carmen Sosa, who said yesterday they had drifted apart. "I don't know what's going on," she told reporters outside her home.



"I didn't raise him that way. He changed."



He is alleged to have emailed Awlaki and wanted to train at his base in Yemen "before returning to New York to become a martyr", officials said.



"Once his bombing campaign began, Mr Pimentel said the public would know that there were mujahideen in the city to fight jihad here," claimed Ray Kelly, the New York police commissioner.



Mr Pimintel allegedly planned to attack US soldiers returning from war zones, police cars and facilities in New York and New Jersey and US post offices.



He was under surveillance for two years and allegedly began plotting in August, but "jacked up his speed" after Awlaki's September death, Mr Kelly said.



He allegedly bought piping, Christmas lights and an alarm clock for his planned bombs from Home Depot and a 99-cent shop.



He also allegedly ran a website, which featured bomb-making instructions lifted from Inspire, al-Qaeda's English-language magazine.



Mr Bloomberg assured residents Mr Pimentel was "not part of a larger conspiracy" overseas. He "was a so-called 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," he claimed.



But officials suggested yesterday that the alleged plot was in fact so minor that the FBI twice declined a request from the NYPD to get involved with the case.



Mr Pimentel was arrested on Sunday at the New York flat of a "police informant", with whom he had discussions over his alleged plot. He was filmed working on the alleged bombs at the flat by a surveillance camera.



According to a criminal complaint, Mr Pimentel told police that he was an hour away from completing his first bomb when they swooped.



He appeared in a Manhattan court late on Sunday night, charged with possession of a bomb for terrorism and several other crimes. He was detained after being denied bail.



His lawyer, Joseph Zablocki, argued that the case against his client did not make sense. "As they admit, he has a very public online profile," said Mr Zablocki. "This is not the way you go about committing terrorist attacks."



Telegraph.co.uk

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