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NY plot: Accused not serious threat, says FBI

The FBI officials were conspicuous by their absence when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the arrest of an al-Qaeda sympathiser in New York, as the investigative agency was not convinced that the "lone wolf" was a serious threat.

world Updated: Nov 22, 2011 13:36 IST

The FBI officials were conspicuous by their absence when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the arrest of an al-Qaeda sympathiser here, as the investigative agency was not convinced that the "lone wolf" was a serious threat.

In a late evening press conference on Sunday, Bloomberg, accompanied by Polic Commissioner Ray Kelly and District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced "al-Qaeda sympathiser" Jose Pimentel planned to carry out terror attacks in the city targetting police officials and military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, the officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were not present in the news conference. Kelly explained that while FBI was "fully informed" about the case, the NYPD and the District Attorney's office had to "act quickly" and make the arrest as 27-year-old Pimentel was close to finishing making pipe bombs. A law enforcement official told PTI that "FBI chose not to take on the case and it was decided that Pimentel's arrest would be made at the state level." The FBI was doubtful over whether Pimentel would be capable of carrying out a terror plot on his own as they believed him to be mentally unstable, the official said. An FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pimentel was "NYPD's intelligence case and FBI need not interfere in the case."

Terrorism cases are generally handled by federal authorities. Another FBI personnel from the agency's New York office said the Joint Terrorism Task Force was consulted regarding the New York Police investigation of Pimentel. The JTTF itself includes the NYPD and FBI and about 50 other law enforcement agencies charged with taking action against terrorism. "The JTTF was consulted in the case and then it was decided by those in the decision making process to take the case to the Manhattan district attorney," the FBI official said.

He said FBI always cooperates with other units in terrorism-related cases. Kelly said the federal authorities were fully informed about Pimentel, who was under police survellaince since 2009. Bloomberg described Pimentel as a "lone wolf" who was inspired by "Al Qaeda propaganda" and was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad. Pimentel, an unemployed native of the Dominican Republican, is a US citizen. Meanwhile, The New York Times quoted Pimentel's mother Carmen Sosa as saying that she was "sorry about my son." "My son is not a terrorist, my son was like an normal boy, like a normal guy." "He likes the way of the Muslims," she said, explaining that he had converted from Roman Catholicism.