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Man sentenced to 16 years for NYC pipe bomb plot

March 25, 2014 2:51:14 PM PDT
A man who pleaded guilty to building homemade bombs to wage holy war in New York City was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in state prison.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the sentencing of Jose Pimentel, an al-Qaida sympathizer who admitted trying to build pipe bombs in a New York City basement and aiming to blow up police stations or military installations.

Pimentel entered his plea last month to attempted criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism. Authorities have called the case a dramatic example of the threat of homegrown, one-person terrorism plots, but his lawyers have portrayed it as an example of overzealous policing in the years since Sept. 11.

With the plea, Pimentel, 29, was promised a sentence of 16 years in prison. He would have faced a minimum of 15 years to life if convicted of the top charge, a high-level weapons possession offense as a terrorism crime. Jury selection had been due to start Monday.

Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, is a Dominican immigrant who was raised in the U.S. and converted to Islam around 2004.

He maintained a website with articles praising Osama bin Laden, describing Sept. 11 victims as legitimate targets and listing reasons to "nuke the USA," prosecutors said in court papers. He repeatedly attacked his former wife for disagreeing with his militant beliefs about Islam, and his mother had thrown him out of her apartment over his views, prosecutors said.

In 2011, Pimentel "crossed the line from violent rhetoric on his Internet sites to building pipe bombs to be used against our citizens," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said when Pimentel was indicted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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