By MILLISSA MATHAI
Alleged terror plot suspect Jose Pimentel pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges that he planned a string of bombings in New York City last year.
Pimentel, who was arrested Nov. 19, appeared briefly at State Supreme Court in Manhattan to enter his plea.
The 27-year-old Manhattan resident was arrested and has been held without bail on charges that include criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree and conspiracy. This is the second time someone has been charged under the state terrorism law that was passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorism attacks.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Pimentel converted to Islam soon after 9/11. He went by a Muslim name, Muhammad Yusuf. After the death of al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, Pimentel was enraged and allegedly studied how to make bombs through the al-Qaeda magazine, Inspire.
According to the criminal complaint, Pimentel allegedly purchased bombmaking materials including a clock, elbow piping and Christmas lights from Home Depot and a 99-cent store. All the while he made incriminating statements which were recorded by a police informant, authorities said.
The suspect was arrested while drilling holes into a pipe as he allegedly made a bomb in an apartment on West 147th Street, according to authorities.
The New York Times reported that the FBI did not want to handle the case out of concern over the role of a police informant in the investigation of Pimentel. It is unusual for terrorism cases to be prosecuted in the state courts rather than in the federal court system.
Pimentel’s next court date is April 17.