American in NYC bomb case will likely face charges

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 26, 2012 7:28 PM
American in NYC bomb case will likely face charges

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for an American accused of building a pipe bomb said on Sunday they expected an indictment against him on terrorism and other charges to be unsealed in court this week.

In a statement, attorneys Lori Cohen and Susan Walsh said prosecutors are likely to announce in court on Thursday that a grand jury has indicted their client, Jose Pimentel, 27, who is accused of plotting to attack police stations, post offices and military personnel in and around New York City.

They also criticized the New York City Police Department for targeting Muslims and said the allegations against Pimentel represent a "manufactured" threat. Pimentel is a suspected follower of the late Islamist militant Anwar al-Awlaki.

"The NYPD's targeted monitoring; secret surveilling; and covert infiltration with Muslim citizenry has never been more apparent than in recent weeks," they wrote. "Jose Pimentel is a down on his luck New Yorker; unemployed, broke, lonely yet curious: prime pickings for police overreaching aided by an informant who sought to help himself and aimed to please."

The statement came after a recent Associated Press report that the NYPD secretly monitored Muslims in neighborhoods from New Jersey to Connecticut following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center, including efforts to watch mosques and Muslim student groups on college campuses.

The report has prompted outrage from Muslim and civil rights groups, though Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD have defended their anti-terrorism efforts as essential and legally permissible.

"Everything we're doing is done constitutionally," New York police spokesman Paul Browne told reporters on Thursday. He did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Cohen and Walsh said they were confident that a jury would "recognize that this case, whatever it is, certainly is not terrorism."

The Manhattan district attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment on Sunday.

The case has been delayed several times, in part to give prosecutors and Pimentel's lawyers an opportunity to work on a possible plea deal. Pimentel, who has remained in prison without bail since his November arrest, is due in court on Thursday.

Under New York law, once a defendant is arrested, prosecutors must secure an indictment from a grand jury in order to move forward with the case.

Pimentel was arrested after a police informant secretly recorded meetings with him over several months as he purchased bomb-making materials and read online instructions on how to assemble an explosive device, according to court documents.

It is only the second case brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office under state anti-terrorism laws passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The other, which is still pending, involves an Algerian and a Moroccan-born American citizen arrested last spring for plotting to bomb synagogues in the city.

(Editing by Paul Simao)