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New York ‘lone wolf’ was one hour away from finishing his bomb
She also praised the New York Police Department, saying, “I think they handled it well.”
Officials with the NYPD, which conducted the undercover investigation using a confidential informant and a bugged apartment, said the department had to move quickly because Pimentel was about to test a pipe bomb made out of match heads, nails and other ingredients bought at neighborhood hardware and discount stores.
Two law enforcement officials said Monday that the NYPD’s Intelligence Division had sought to get the FBI involved at least twice as the investigation unfolded. Both times, the FBI concluded that Pimentel lacked the mental capacity to act on his own, they said.
The FBI thought Pimentel “didn’t have the predisposition or the ability to do anything on his own,” one of the officials said.
The officials were not authorized to speak about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity. The FBI’s New York office and the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan both declined to comment on Monday.
Pimentel’s lawyer, Joseph Zablocki, said his client was never a true threat.
“If the goal here is to be stopping terror … I’m not sure that this is where we should be spending our resources,” he said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly defended the handling of the case Monday, saying the NYPD kept federal authorities in the loop “all along” before circumstances forced investigators to take swift measures using state charges.
“No question in my mind that we had to take this case down,” Kelly said. “There was an imminent threat.”
Added Kelly: “This is a classic case of what we’ve been talking about �� the lone wolf, an individual, self-radicalized. This is the needle in the haystack problem we face as a country and as a city.”
Authorities described Pimentel as an unemployed U.S. citizen and “al-Qaida sympathizer” who was born in the Dominican Republic. He had lived most of his life in Manhattan, aside from about five years in the upstate city of Schenectady, where authorities say he had an arrested for credit card fraud.
His mother said he was raised Roman Catholic. But he converted to Islam in 2004 and went by the name Muhammad Yusuf, authorities said.
Using a tip from police in Albany, the NYPD had been watching Pimentel using a confidential informant for the past year. Investigators learned that he was energized and motivated to carry out his plan by the Sept. 30 killing of al-Qaida’s U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, police said.
Pimentel was under constant surveillance as he shopped for the pipe bombmaterials. He also was overheard talking about attacking police patrol cars and postal facilities, killing soldiers returning home from abroad andbombing a police station in Bayonne, N.J., authorizes said.