Mother of Alleged Terrorist Plotter Jose Pimentel Apologizes for Son
By Ben Fractenberg, Carla Zanoni and Patrick Hedlund
HARLEM — The mother of a Hamilton Heights man charged with plotting to use homemade bombs to attack police, post offices and military personnel apologized for her son Monday, a day after city officials revealed the alleged terrorist plot.
Carmen Sosa, whose son Jose Pimentel, 27, was arraigned Sunday on charges he was making three bombs in upper Manhattan when he was arrested, expressed remorse for her son’s alleged plan to "fight jihad" in New York City.
"I want to apologize to the city of New York,” Sosa, 54, said outside her West 137th Street apartment where Pimentel was living at the time of his arrest.
“I've been here since 1987. And I'm very disappointed with what my son is doing."
Pimentel, who also went by the name Muhammad Yusuf, had been under investigation by the NYPD for roughly a year, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at a press conference Sunday night with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance Jr.
The accused “lone wolf” plotter, who was born in the Dominican Republic, crafted the explosive devices using everyday items like match heads and Christmas lights, and planned to practice detonating the devices in mailboxes, officials said.
Sosa said she became concerned about her son and moved him to Manhattan last year after he had been living upstate for about five years.
"I brought him here [from Schenectady, N.Y.] because I didn't like the way he was acting," Pimentel’s mother said.
"I'm Catholic. I believe in God. I don't support the Muslims."
"I just want to say I love him and I didn't raise him that way. He changed," Sosa added of her son's conversion to Islam. “He was very calm, praying a lot, sleeping a lot, reading the Koran."
Sosa said her son never told her about his alleged bomb-making activities. But she said he spent a lot of time on his computer and told her “I’m doing business” whenever she asked what he was up to.
"I didn't know what he was doing in the house,” she said. “I didn't see him talk about that."
Sources said Pimentel lived on West 137th Street but allegedly assembled the bombs in another apartment in Washington Heights.
Prosecutors said a "library" of extremist Al Qaeda materials belonging to Pimentel was seized, though it wasn't immediately clear where it was found.
Pimentel was apparently inspired by radical cleric Anwar el Awlaki, NYPD Commissioner Kelly said. He added that Pimentel spent most of his life in Manhattan, and had contemplated changing his name to "Osama Hussein," after his "heroes" Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
He was also overheard "talking about traveling to Yemen for training before returning to New York to become a martyr in the name of jihad," Kelly noted.
Despite being inspired by al Qaeda, authorities believed Pimentel was not acting as part of a larger international conspiracy.
Sosa added that her son had dropped out of school and was unemployed after working numerous jobs. She also said Pimentel has a young child who lives with his ex-wife.
"He didn't have many friends," Pimentel's uncle, Luis Severino, said on Sunday night from the Hamilton Heights apartment.
They had been sharing an apartment there for more than two years, his uncle said, adding that he rarely saw Pimentel.
"We haven't had much contact," Severino said in Spanish. "I work during the day. When I would get home at night, he would take off who knows where."