Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

New York police arrest ‘lone wolf’ terror suspect

The New York Police Department has arrested an alleged “al-Qaeda sympathiser” who had plotted to bomb returning military personnel, police cars and post offices in the city.

The alleged terrorist, 27-year-old Jose Pimentel, was acting as a “lone wolf” and was taken into custody on Saturday, said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A Dominican-born US citizen, Pimentel had spent most of his life in Manhattan, said the mayor and had been under police surveillance since May 2009.

The suspect was arrested while trying to build the pipe bombs using materials he had recently purchased, the mayor said at a press conference on Sunday night.

‘Lone wolf’
Bloomberg said: “The suspect was a so called ‘lone wolf’, motivated by his own resentment of the presence of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as inspired by al-Qaeda propaganda. He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”

New York police commissioner Ray Kelly said Pimentel was a follower of radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in September.

The death of al-Awlaki “set him off” said Kelly but the US authorities first became aware of him two years ago when he was living in Schenectady, in upstate New York. Pimentel had told associates that he planned to travel to Yemen before returning to New York to become “a martyr in the name of Jihad”.

Pimentel had become increasingly radical and worried his associates, said Kelly, and had talked about changing his name to Osama Hussein in order to celebrate his two heroes Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Building bombs
Kelly said Pimentel followed instructions from Awlaki’s Inspire magazine, in particular a magazine titled “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom”. He bought the ingredients from the DIY store Home Depot, shopping at different branches to hide his purchases.

Awlaki was also the inspiration for Nidal Malik Hasan, the US-born army officer who killed 13 people and wounded 29 others in a 2009 shooting attack and for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called “Underwear Bomber” who attempted to blow up an airliner over the US in December 2009.

Mayor Bloomberg said this was the fourteenth terrorist attack targeting New York since September 11 and the reason why the city had 1 000 officers dedicated to foiling terror plots. —

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Fears of violence persist a year after the murder of...

The court battle to stop coal mining in rural KwaZulu-Natal has heightened the sense of danger among environmental activists

Data shows EFF has lower negative sentiment online among voters...

The EFF has a stronger online presence than the ANC and Democratic Alliance

More top stories

Kenya’s beach boys fall into sex tourism, trafficking

In the face of their families’ poverty, young men, persuaded by the prospect of wealth or education, travel to Europe with their older female sponsors only to be trafficked for sex

High court reinstates Umgeni Water board

The high court has ruled that the dissolution of the water entity’s board by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was unfair and unprocedural

Mkhize throws the book at the Special Investigating Unit

It’s a long shot at political redemption for the former health minister and, more pressingly, a bid to avert criminal charges

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…