NEW: Jose Pimentel bought bomb ingredients at Home Depot and elsewhere, police say
NEW: The al Qaeda magazine he'd read urged backers to take matters into their own hands
Pimentel, 27, is suspected of plotting to attack U.S. veterans, police and post offices
"There is no evidence he worked with anyone else," Mayor Bloomberg says
A New York man authorities say once pondered changing his name to Osama Hussein to honor his personal heroes – Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein – remained jailed Monday on bomb-related charges in what police described as a plot to attack police, military personnel and postal facilities.
The intended targets of Jose Pimentel, 27, were U.S. military personnel who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as U.S. postal facilities and police in New York and Bayonne, New Jersey, according to Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
The suspect was described by Bloomberg as an “al Qaeda sympathizer,” though he is not believed to have ever worked with or received training from anyone in that terrorist organization.
After his arrest, Pimentel told police that he believes Islamic law requires Muslims to wage war against the United States, including assassinations, according to the criminal complaint against him.
Kelly said Pimentel is a follower of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical U.S.-born cleric who rose to become a top figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before a U.S. drone strike killed him this year in Yemen.
An unemployed native of the Dominican Republican who is a U.S. citizen, Pimentel had lived most of his life in Manhattan, except for five years in Schenectady, New York. He’d had been monitored by authorities since 2009 and his extreme positions “made even some of his like-minded friends nervous,” said Kelly.
The commissioner said that Pimentel even talked about changing his name to Osama Hussein – in honor of his now deceased “heroes,” long-time al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
In August, the suspect allegedly decided to carry out the bomb plot, Kelly said. He “jacked up his speed” after al-Awlaki’s death on September 30, according to the police commissioner.
After that strike, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a “eulogy” in which it promised to “retaliate soon” for the deaths of al-Awlaki and three others. That threat prompted the United States to issue a worldwide alert warning of such attacks.
“We knew for the last two years, he’s been reading a lot of jihadist information and talked a lot of inflammatory rhetoric,” Kelly said of Pimentel. “But it appears at this juncture the death of Anwar al-Awlaki motivated him and made him increase his tempo.”
Pimentel bought ingredients at Home Depot and other stores for the three bombs that he was working to make, mindful to shop around so as not to “raise red flags,” according to the police commissioner.
He allegedly planned to test an explosive device in a mailbox before using it against other targets. His aim, the police commissioner said, was to show there were “mujahedin” – or Islamic militants – in the city ready to wage “jihad.”
He was arrested Saturday afternoon in an apartment in Washington Heights, a neighborhood in northern Manhattan, after he began to drill holes in the would-be pipe bomb, Kelly said. While authorities had monitored him for over two years, they decided to move quickly for fear that device may explode, according to the commissioner.
“Pimentel’s behavior morphed from simply talking about such acts to actions – namely, bomb making,” Kelly said.
He allegedly learned how to make a pipe bomb after reading an article entitled “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom” in Inspire, an online English-language magazine published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“He was a reader of al Qaeda’s slick online magazine Inspire – and inspire him it did,” Vance said. “His stated desire to attack our servicemen and women … could have come from an al Qaeda playbook.”
Vance said that his office and other New York authorities had long been “in communication with federal authorities.” That said, Pimentel was arrested by state law enforcement agents and will be tried in New York courts.
Specifically, the district attorney announced that his office filed charges Sunday against Pimentel for conspiring to build a bomb for terrorist purposes and possessing a bomb.
Neither Bloomberg, Kelly nor Vance gave details on where Pimentel was being held or when he would appear in court.
It could not be determined Sunday night whether Pimentel had retained an attorney.
CNN’s Deborah Feyerick contributed to this report.