New York: A Dominican-born Muslim convert
charged with plotting to attack police and soldiers with
homemade bombs pleaded not guilty in New York to rarely used
state-level terrorism charges.
Jose Pimentel yesterday nearly whispered "not guilty" in a
case authorities describe as bringing down an overt al-Qaida
sympathizer who was building a pipe bomb to act on his violent
His lawyers call it an example of police overreaching.
"We think that when a jury hears both sides of this case,
they`ll see it for what it really is," one of his lawyers,
Susan J Walsh, said as she left court.
Also known as Muhammad Yusuf, Pimentel had a website
detailing his belief in jihad, or holy war, and said he
believed Muslims were obligated to attack Americans as
retaliation for US military action in Muslim countries,
Pimentel told an informant he wanted to attack targets
that included police cars and stations, post offices and
soldiers returning home from abroad, authorities said. He was
arrested while making his homemade bomb in November, according
to prosecutors and police.
"Jose Pimentel engaged in a plot to build improvised
explosive devices and use them to commit acts of violent
jihad," crossing a line between rhetoric and trying to take
action, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr said in a
statement after Pimentel was indicted last month on charges
including weapons possession and conspiracy as terror crimes.
Both carry the possibility of up to life in prison if the
27-year-old Pimentel is convicted.
The terrorism charges stem from a state law passed shortly
after the Sept 11 attacks. Most terrorism cases are federal,
and the state law has been used only a handful of times,
including in another case against two men charged with
plotting to attack synagogues.