Updated 11/21/2011 08:15 PM
Mother Of Hamilton Heights Terror Plot Suspect Speaks Out, Offers Apology
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The mother of an alleged al-Qaeda sympathizer and Manhattan resident who has been arraigned on charges of plotting to detonate bombs in the city is speaking out.
Authorities say Jose Pimentel, 27, was targeting US troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted to blow up post offices and police cars.
Pimentel, a U.S. citizen, is a native of the Dominican Republic who lived in Hamilton Heights.
His mother, Carmen Sosa, says she's shocked and saddened by the news.
"I would like to apologize about this, I mean I didn't raise my son that way. I feel very bad about this," Sosa said. "I always loved New York the way it is. I also want to say thank you to the police. I think they handled it well."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Pimentel was actively building bombs in his apartment.
Kelly says police made the arrest because he was ready to carry out his plan.
Pimentel was allegedly building bombs, following instructions from the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki's militant magazine.
Police made a similar device and detonated it.
Investigators say Pimentel was acting alone and was not affiliated with any al-Qaeda cells.
"The NYPD has been keeping track of Jose Pimentel since May of 2009, when he talked about violence, and more intensely in recent weeks as he acted on it," Kelly said.
"The defendant stated his belief in violent jihad and harbored a violent ideology, and you could see that from his website True Islam. He posted articles on Osama bin Laden, discussed the duty of every Muslim to wage war against the West, and identified himself with terrorist organizations," said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr.
Investigators say Pimentel was within an hour of finishing a pipe bomb when the police raided his apartment.
He was apparently following a bomb-making recipe titled "How To Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom."
He linked to the article on his own website.
Investigators say he was motivated to put his plans into action by the death of al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen in September.
Pimentel's lawyer says his client was open about his anti-American feelings which doesn't fit the profile of someone plotting a terror attack.
"There is nothing sleeper or hidden about this whatsoever. It would not have required a very difficult investigation to be able to find out any of what took place with regards to my client," said defense attorney Joseph Zablocki.
Pimentel's mother says her son was raised a Catholic but became interested in Islam shortly after the September 11th attacks.
Muslims who live near his home on 137th Street called Pimentel by his Muslim name, Muhammad Yusuf.
"He always used to say salaam alaikum in basically Muslim, basically greet us because I'm muslim as well. And he seemed nice but he was always quiet," said neighbor Simon Islam.
"I know he is Muslim, he says he is Muslim, but he is not. Because I tell you we fast, we do everything. He did not do nothing," said store owner Mohamed Alouddi.
As well as living in Manhattan, Pimentel spent time at his family's home in Schenectady, New York.
He was convicted of a burglary there in 2006 and placed on five years probation. That's also when authorities started tracking his alleged terror plot activities.
Pimental is being held without bail and is due back in court on November 25.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of 15 years to life in prison.
This is the 14th allegation of a plot targeting the city since the September 11th terrorist attacks.
In the wake of Pimentel's arrest, local lawmakers said New York needs its fair share of security funds.
Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Peter King said the case proves New York remains the top target for terrorists, both at home and abroad.
While praising the NYPD's efforts, both Schumer and King said the city needs all the money it can get to ensure New Yorkers are safe.
"Pulling out the rug from under the NYPD is simply the the last thing on Earth we should be doing," said Schumer.
"To me, it's just putting people's lives at risk. It's playing Russian roulette with people's lives and it's indefensible," said King.
King said New York is five times more likely to be the target of attack than any other city in the nation.