A Manhattan man who was accused of plotting to set off bombs in the city pleaded guilty Wednesday to a state terrorism charge. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
Jose Pimentel was born in the Dominican Republic and spent most of his life here in the city, but authorities say he converted to Islam, was radicalized and then became determined to avenge the death of an American-born Muslim cleric killed by a U.S. drone.
Officials say he acted on his own.
"The concern about the lone wolf, this case is the classic case of the importance of having the capabilities to not only focus on the international threat, but the hometown threat, the homegrown threat," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.
Authorities say Pimentel gathered most of his information from the Internet, including al-Qaida-affiliated sites, and that his targets included police precincts, military recruitment centers and Jewish civilians.
When Pimentel was arrested in November 2011, police officials said that one of his pipe bombs was almost complete.
"The most important aspect of this case is not what happened, but what didn't," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Terrorism cases are usually led by federal authorities, but in this case, the FBI did not participate, reportedly because of concerns over the behavior of a confidential informant who helped build the case.
Pimentel's attorneys have argued that he was entrapped by that police informant, who had provided encouragement and even drugs, but city authorities defended the investigation, which was conducted by the New York City Police Department's intelligence division.
"We always wish that we, in all our cases, might have priests or rabbis as our key witnesses, but that isn't life," Vance said.
City authorities also repeatedly defended their right to pursue cases like this.
"No city is more threatened by potential acts of terrorism than New York City," Bratton said.
"If a bomb were to go off, no one cares which law enforcement agency was involved or when," Vance said. "The bottom line is that when we have credible evidence of a serious threat, we are going to pursue that case."
Pimentel is just the third person to be convicted under a state anti-terrorism law that was put in place after the September 11th attacks.
By pleading guilty, he agreed to serve 16 years in prison. He faced 15 years to life had the case gone to trial.