A Muslim convert arrested for allegedly making bombs in New York City was inspired by radical cleric Anwar Awlaki and was allegedly plotting to attack U.S. servicemen and police officers, according to officials.
A five-count criminal complaint against Jose Pimentel of Washington Heights says that Pimentel planned "to build a bomb and use a bomb to assassinate U.S. servicemen and women returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said during a press conference this evening that Pimentel, an unemployed loner who lives with his mother, also wanted to kill police officers, and called him a "27-year-old al Qaeda sympathizer."
"We had to act quickly," New York police commissioner Ray Kelly said, "because he was in fact putting this bomb together."
When arrested, officials say, Pimentel possessed the materials necessary to build a bomb.
He allegedly manufactured a bomb on his mother's couch following the directions in the article "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," from al Qaeda's English-language on-line magazine "Inspire." radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar Awlaki was a contributor to the magazine.
"He was a reader of al Qaeda's online magazine 'Inspire' and inspire him it did," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said.
Officials say Pimentel is apparently a "lone wolf" with no known connection to any foreign terrorists or local radicalized individuals.
"He was not part of a larger conspiracy," Bloomberg said.
Kelly said Pimentel was inspired to act by the death of Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. strike in Yemen earlier this year.
A duplicate of the bomb Pimentel was allegedly building was detonated by police on a police range and blew apart a car. Charges against Pimentel include criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy in the fourth degree as a crime of terrorism.
An American citizen, Pimentel was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States at age eight. After converting to Islam, he went by the name Muhammed Yusef.
Pimentel spent much of his time on the Internet, according to sources, and maintained a radical website called TrueIslam1. The website contains a link to the bomb-making article in "Inspire."
Pimentel first came to the attention of authorities in May 2009, when he was living in Schenectady, N.Y. He returned to New York City in January 2010. Authorities say they have been tailing him for more than a year.
He has a prior arrest for criminal possession of stolen property.