An alleged terrorist bomber working as an independent agent was arrested in Washington Heights, NY yesterday afternoon before he could set off his first bombs, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a special news conference this evening.
Flanked by New York's Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Bloomberg announced the arrest of Jose Pimentel as a part of a long-running investigation of the alleged terrorist who had been working for the past two years to build bombs that he had been planning to test in mail boxes. Some of his potential full scale targets after the tests were to be concluded were said to be U.S. Postal Offices in New York, and a police station in Bayonne, NJ.
"The suspect 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," said Bloomberg.
"He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad...[and] he represents exactly the kind of threat FBI Director Robert Mueller and his experts have warned about, as American military and intelligence agencies have eroded Al Qaeda's ability to launch large-scale attacks."
A special undercover police unit had been monitoring Pimental recently, and decided to move in and make the arrest before the alleged terrorist could plant his first bomb. This was to be the 13th attempted attack in New York since 9/11, said the Mayor.
The 27-year-old Pimental from the Dominican Repunblic was said to have been influenced by the death of Anwar al-Awlaki to join the Jihad, and had fashioned several pipe bombs from materials he had bought from various Home Depots to avoid detection.
Those bomb parts included elbow joints used in normal plumbing, but which are instructed as ingredients for bomb making in Inspire Magazine, an Al Qaeda publication, in particular the issue, "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom," according to Commissioner Kelly.
Pimental had allegedly also bought nails to act as shrapnel and drilled holes into the devices to make them work.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance said Pimental could face from 15 years to life if convicted of the charges of attempted terrorism.
A picture of Pimental working on one of his alleged bomb devices was showcased at the press conference: a man with glasses bent over his work at a desk. How the photo was obtained was not disclosed. Although Pimental is a U.S. citizen, he was unemployed and was planning a trip to Yemen. He recently divorced from his wife.