F.B.I. Passed on Jose Pimental “Terror” Case Several Times; Entrapment Fears Cited
The FBI passed on the case involving an alleged al-Qaeda sympathizer and his plans to carry out terror attacks in the New York metropolitan area, citing, among other reasons, concerns over entrapment.
According to Talking Points Memo and USA Today, the feds declined to pursue the case against Jose Pimental, a 27-year-old unemployed U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic who converted to Islam, took the name Muhammad Yusuf and became radicalized. The New York Police Department launched a yearlong undercover investigation, utilizing a confidential informant. This effort was part of a broad, controversial spying program that targeted New York City’s Muslim population. Every aspect of Muslim life was snooped on, from mosques and student groups to cab drivers and Middle Eastern restaurants.
The NYPD claims to have uncovered an alarming plot in which Pimental would target New York City post offices and police stations with bombs as well as attack U.S. troops returning stateside and a police station in New Jersey.
“He was in fact putting his bomb together,” New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced Sunday after Pimental’s arrest the previous day. “He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb.”
The NYPD says Pimental is an al-Qaeda sympathizer who resents the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has, in fact, expressed support for al-Qaeda and violent jihad on his website, trueislam1.com. Commissioner Kelly claims Pimental was interested in bomb-making and that the confidential informant had several conversations with him about building small bombs and carrying out terror attacks.
But the FBI passed on the case multiple times, telling the Associated Press that Pimental “didn’t have the predisposition or the ability to do anything on his own.”
The NYPD concedes that he was indeed acting alone. “He appears to be a total lone wolf,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a rare Sunday press conference. “He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad.”
The FBI also says Pimental lacked the financial resources to carry out the alleged attacks.
But most alarmingly, the feds raised the possibility of entrapment and cited that as a major reason for passing on the case.
The highly public nature of Pimental’s “terrorism” has raised many doubts as well.
“I don’t believe that this case is nearly as strong as the people believe,” Joseph Zablocki, Pimental’s attorney, said. “He has this very public online profile. … This is not the way you go about committing a terrorist attack.”
Pimental remains in custody, charged with conspiracy, first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism and soliciting support for a terrorist act.
Some observers have speculated that Mayor Bloomberg chose to bring the Pimental case to light in order to distract attention from violent eviction of peaceful demonstrators from the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ encampment in Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square and the subsequent police brutality and paramilitary policing witnessed throughout the city.
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