Hamilton Heights Terror Suspect Arraigned On Charges
A Hamilton Heights man appeared in court late Sunday on charges he was plotting to blow up targets in the city. NY1's Erica Ferrari filed the following report.
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Alleged home-grown terrorist Jose Pimentel appeared calm and aloof at his arraignment late Sunday night in Manhattan criminal court.
Police say they moved in, in the interest of public safety, because Pimentel was starting to assemble the devices.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. says indications came from Pimentel's own website where he actually linked directions to a notorious article called "how to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom."
Those directions, according to investigators, came from American-born, radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, al-Qaeda's leader in Yemen.
"The defendant stated his belief in violent jihad and harbored a violent ideology," Vance Jr. said.
A US drone strike killed al-Awlaki this year and authorities say that motivated Pimentel to act on his plans.
Police say he moved back to the city from Schenectady, New York a short time ago after a separation from his wife.
Law enforcement officials up there tipped off the New York City Police Department about Pimentel's radical extremist views.
People who lived near Pimentel in Hamilton Heights say they didn't expect this.
"That's the scariest part, you know? That people just seem normal, you know? But you never know who's doing what," said one neighbor.
"We had no idea. All I know is that we would see him outside the building and he was always sociable," said another.
Much of the information cited in the criminal complaint comes through a confidential informant. Police say they have been on to Pimentel since 2009.
In addition to evidence from his website, the criminal complaint indicates they have gathered several recorded conversations of the suspect talking about killing Americans. But the suspect's attorney claims Pimentel is not a real terrorist threat because he was displaying his resentments on line for anyone to see.
"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 is being held without bail and is due back in court November 25.
If convicted, he faces a maximum of 15 years to life in prison.