New York, Nov 21: A 27-year-old al-Qaeda sympathiser described as a “lone wolf” was arrested here on charges of plotting to attack police and soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with pipe bombs, US officials said today.
The suspect, identified as Jose Pimentel, was charged with three terrorism-related counts and two other counts, according to court documents.
Beyond soldiers, his intended targets were allegedly police officers and post offices, Police New York Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a joint news conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Pimentel, an unemployed native of the Dominican Republican, is a US citizen. He had been under surveillance since May 2009 and was a “lone wolf” who got instructions on building a pipe bomb from “Inspire” magazine, published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Kelly said.
One of the articles published in the magazine was titled “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”
He was arrested on Saturday, Bloomberg said, adding that he was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”
Kelly said the suspect was a follower of al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who was killed in a US drone attack.
Last August, the suspect allegedly decided to carry out the bomb plot. He “jacked up his speed” after September 30, when al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen.
“We knew for the last two years, he's been reading a lot of jihadist information and talked a lot of inflammatory rhetoric,” Kelly said.
Bloomberg said the latest terror plot is the 14th that “lone wolves, al-Qaeda, or al-Qaeda affiliates,” planned to carry out in the city since 9/11.