Man arrested in New York over Qaeda-inspired bomb plot
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JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN & WILLIAM K RASHBAUM
A Manhattan man who became fascinated by the US-born Muslim militant Anwar al-Awlaki was arrested on charges of plotting to build and detonate bombs in New York, city officials announced on Sunday night.
At a hastily called City Hall news conference, Police Commissioner Raymond W Kelly, who appeared alongside Mayor Michael R Bloomberg and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R Vance Jr, said the man, Jose Pimentel, 27, had begun in August to plot a bomb attack. But it was the death of Awlaki, who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in September, that refocused his efforts, Kelly said.
Kelly said that Pimentel, a convert to Islam who was also known as Muhammad Yusuf, had been under police surveillance for more than two years and was arrested on Saturday after he had come close to completing at least three bombs.
Holes had been drilled into pipes, sulphur had been scraped off matches, nails were ready to be used as shrapnel, and wires were used to fashion an ignition device, according to a law enforcement official.
Pimentel planned to test his abilities by detonating mailboxes before embarking on a bombing campaign around New York City, Kelly said. "Pimentel talked about killing US military personnel returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly Marines and Army personnel," Kelly said. "He talked about bombing post offices in and around Washington Heights and police cars in New York City, as well as a police station in Bayonne, New Jersey."
Bloomberg and Kelly said, however, that Pimentel was not part of a conspiracy, had no known contacts abroad and, in the mayor's words, "appears to be a total lone wolf."
A native of the Dominican Republic and a naturalised American citizen, Pimentel had spent much of his life in Manhattan, except for five years in Schenectady, New York, the authorities said. While upstate, his extremist remarks "made even some like-minded friends nervous," Kelly said, noting that Pimentel considered changing his name to Osama Hussein "to celebrate his heroes."
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