Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Man pleads guilty in NYC pipe bomb terrorism plot; was accused of targeting police, soldiers

Jose Pimentel appears in a courtroom in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Pimentel, accused of building homemade bombs to wage holy war in New York City, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a terrorism charge less than a week before his scheduled trial in a rare state-level terrorism case. With the plea, Pimentel, 29, was promised a sentence of 16 years in prison. He would have faced a minimum of 15 years to life if convicted of the top charge, a high-level weapons possession offense as a terrorism crime. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Jefferson Siegel, Pool)

Enlarge Image

Jose Pimentel appears in a courtroom in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. Pimentel, accused of building homemade bombs to wage holy war in New York City, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a terrorism charge less than a week before his scheduled trial in a rare state-level terrorism case. With the plea, Pimentel, 29, was promised a sentence of 16 years in prison. He would have faced a minimum of 15 years to life if convicted of the top charge, a high-level weapons possession offense as a terrorism crime. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Jefferson Siegel, Pool)

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A man accused of building homemade bombs to wage holy war in New York City pleaded guilty Wednesday to a terrorism charge less than a week before his scheduled trial in a rare state-level terrorism case.

Jose Pimentel, wearing a knitted skull cap, softly answered questions and shook his head at times as he acknowledged he'd tried to craft a pipe bomb in 2011, with the idea of using it to make a violent impact on U.S. foreign policy.

He sought, according to a statement a judge read on his behalf, to "try to undermine public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Pimentel pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism. Authorities have called the case a dramatic example of the threat of homegrown, one-person terrorism plots, but his lawyers have portrayed it as an example of overzealous policing in the years since Sept. 11.

Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, is a 29-year-old Dominican immigrant who was raised in the U.S. and converted to Islam around 2004. With the plea, he was promised a sentence of 16 years in prison. He could have faced a minimum of 15 years to life if convicted.

"Today's guilty plea further supports the fact that, increasingly, the threat of terrorism comes from radicalized local actors living in our community," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said at a news conference.

But Pimentel's lawyers have suggested he would never have progressed from posting online to trying to make pipe bombs if police hadn't sent a series of informants to engage with him.

While he admitted his guilt, "the question that will not be answered, at least not in a court of law, is who exactly is recruiting whom in this war" against terrorism, said one of his attorneys, Susan Walsh.

He maintained a website with articles praising Osama bin Laden, describing Sept. 11 victims as legitimate targets and listing reasons to "nuke the USA," prosecutors said in court papers. He repeatedly clashed with his former wife because of his militant beliefs about Islam, and his mother had thrown him out of her apartment over his views, prosecutors said.

His vitriol deepened in 2011, when he was recorded talking about assassinating a judge, killing returning soldiers and bombing a police station or the George Washington Bridge, officials said; he also talked about targeting Jews, Assistant District Attorney Deborah Hickey said. He was arrested that November as he assembled bombs from clocks, Christmas tree lights, match-head scrapings and other items acquired at dollar shops and hardware stores, prosecutors said.

One informant and an undercover officer had gotten nowhere with Pimentel, Walsh and fellow Pimentel lawyer Lori Cohen said. But then police sent another informant, a fellow Hispanic Muslim convert who smoked joints with Pimentel while they talked about jihad, accompanied him to buy bomb makings and opened his apartment to Pimentel to put the materials together.

"If you work on someone with professional witnesses, if you acquiesce to marijuana use, you wear people down," Walsh said last month.

Vance said he was comfortable with the way the investigation was conducted.

The defence had indicated his trial would examine the New York Police Department's intelligence-gathering on Muslims, which came under scrutiny in stories by The Associated Press that showed how the department infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques and monitored sermons as part of a broad anti-terrorism effort.

Vance said prosecutors offered the plea deal to secure a significant sentence without the uncertainties of a trial. Pimentel's lawyers said he took the offer to avoid the possibility of life in prison.

Entrapment defences, or arguing that police induced crime, face a high legal burden. It's not enough to show that police or their agents created an opportunity for law-breaking; a defendant has to convince jurors that police used methods that risk getting an innocent person to commit a crime.

Most terrorism cases are federal, but Pimentel was charged under a New York state law passed shortly after Sept. 11 and seldom used since.

After Pimentel's arrest, two law enforcement officials said the FBI had passed on his case because agents felt he wasn't inclined or able to act without the informant's involvement; the officials were not authorized to speak about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

___

Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report. Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media