16 years in prison for man in NYC terror bomb plot

March 25, 2014

 

An al-Qaida sympathizer who admitted trying to build pipe bombs to carry out a homegrown terror campaign was sentenced Tuesday to 16 years in prison, capping a case authorities called an illustration of the threat of lone, local would-be terrorists but his lawyers portrayed as an example of police entrapment.

Jose Pimentel, his hands shackled and enclosed in mitts, declined to speak as he was sentenced in the rare state-level terror case; most are federal. City Department of Correction representatives had no immediate information on what the mitts were for.

Pimentel, 29, last month admitted he tried to fashion a pipe bomb out of household items in an informant’s basement in November 2011 and aspired to use it to “try to undermine public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He had been recorded brainstorming about attacks ranging from killing returning soldiers to blowing up a police station to bombing the George Washington Bridge, authorities said.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said the case demonstrated the growing threat “from radicalized local actors” and local authorities’ ability to stem it.

Pimentel, a Dominican native, grew up in the United States, converted to Islam around 2004 and became an outspoken extremist who also went by Muhammad Yusuf, authorities said. He maintained a website with articles lauding Osama bin Laden, saying it was valid to target those killed on Sept. 11 and giving reasons to “nuke the USA,” and he repeatedly clashed with relatives over his militant views, prosecutors said in court papers.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/16-years-in-prison-for-man-in-nyc-terror-bomb-plot/2014/03/25/67691086-b47c-11e3-bab2-b9602293021d_story.html

California man charged with aiding terror group

March 26, 2014

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted a California man on a single charge of attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Nicholas Teausant had previously been held on a criminal complaint since his arrest last week near the Canadian border.

The one-paragraph indictment handed down Wednesday alleges that Teausant, an American citizen, attempted to join al-Qaida in Iraq. The indictment says the group changed its name last year to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Teausant agreed last week to be returned to Sacramento to face the charge.

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/california-man-charged-with-aiding-terror-group/2014/03/26/f894e3be-b53f-11e3-bab2-b9602293021d_story.html

Texas terror suspect planned mosque attack, officials say

April 4, 2014

 

Robert James Talbot Jr. considered himself a revolutionary seeking to create a different society by robbing an armored car, killing police and even blazing a bloody path though a service at a mosque where he would shoot men, women and children at prayer, officials said.

Talbot was ordered held without bond Wednesday at a hearing in Houston, Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for Kenneth Magidson, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Texas, said in an email. Talbot, 38, of Katy, Texas, was arrested last week, but government terror experts gave new details at Tuesday’s hearing on what they said were his plans.

When Talbot was taken into custody, prosecutors released documents outlining what they said was his effort to recruit five or six like-minded individuals “to blow up government buildings, rob banks and kill law enforcement officers. Talbot created a Facebook page titled “American Insurgent Movement,” the complaint alleged.

His goal as stated on Facebook, according to the complaint, was to create a “a Pre-Constitutionalist Community … [for] those who seek True patriotism and are looking for absolute Freedom by doing the Will of God. Who want to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forward to stopping the Regime with action by bloodshed.”

The complaint alleges that in a March 15 Facebook post, Talbot said: “In a few weeks me and my team are goin active for Operation Liberty…I will not be able to post no more. We will be the revolution, things will happen nation wide or in the states. They will call us many names and spin things around on media. Just remember we fight to stop Marxism, liberalism, Central banking Cartels and the New World Order.”

FBI special agent Renee Cline testified at the hearing that Talbot “wanted to go to a mosque on Friday and take women, children, men and shoot them,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Cline added that Talbot planned to hit the mosque during a prayer session when the most people would be there.

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-texas-terror-suspect-mosque-attack-20140402,0,2322303.story#axzz2yE3oOxsF

Washington: Arrested Man Is Accused of Seeking to Join Militants in Syria

March 18, 2014

 

A California man who prosecutors said was on his way to Syria to join a Qaeda group was arrested on Monday near the Canadian border in Blaine, Wash., on a terrorism charge, federal officials said. The Department of Justice said in a statement that the man, Nicholas Teausant, 20, an American-born convert to Islam, had planned to cross into Canada and travel to Syria to join Islamist militants. A student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., he was also a private in the United States Army National Guard but was in the process of being released as of December, according to the complaint.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/us/politics/washington-arrested-man-is-accused-of-seeking-to-join-militants-in-syria.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults%231&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry19%23%2FIslam%2F7days%2Fallresults%2F2%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F

Man Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charge in Terrorism Case

February 20, 2014

 

Five days before his trial was to start, a Manhattan man accused of planning to wage a personal jihad against the United States with pipe bombs pleaded guilty on Wednesday to reduced charges in a deal with prosecutors.
The man, Jose Pimentel, was facing state terrorism charges for building an inexpensive pipe bomb in an informer’s apartment, and starting to work on two others, according to an indictment. Prosecutors said they had evidence that he meant to detonate bombs in New York City in retaliation for the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen.
But on Wednesday, Mr. Pimentel appeared in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to plead guilty to a single count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree as a crime of terrorism. As part of the plea deal, he agreed to serve 16 years in prison and five years of probation when he is sentenced on March 25; he had faced 15 years to life in prison under the original charges of weapons possession and conspiracy as crimes of terrorism.
Mr. Pimentel’s lawyers had contended that their client was entrapped by the police. They describe him as a down-on-his-luck young man who was easily enticed by the informer to build bombs after being plied for months with free food and marijuana.

Mr. Pimentel, a Dominican native who converted to Islam, was arrested in November 2011 after a lengthy investigation. The arrest stemmed from a sting operation by the Police Department’s Intelligence Division. The police used an undercover officer, two confidential informers and hundreds of hours of recorded conversations.
The case in state court was unusual because the federal authorities typically handle terrorism prosecutions. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which had monitored Mr. Pimentel, decided not to pursue charges against him, and the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., took on the task.
No evidence has been produced in court that Mr. Pimentel had co-conspirators or was taking instructions from terrorist organizations abroad. He has been described as a lone wolf.
At a news conference, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said Mr. Pimentel was typical of the homegrown, self-made terrorist that organizations like Al Qaeda had tried to inspire through jihadist websites and anti-Western propaganda. “This young man really was self-radicalized,” Mr. Bratton said.

Mr. Pimentel is the third person to be charged under New York’s antiterrorism law, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Though the statute was never employed under the previous Manhattan district attorney, Mr. Vance has now used it twice.

NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/20/nyregion/manhattan-man-pleads-guilty-to-reduced-charges-in-terror-case.html?action=click&module=Search®ion=searchResults%235&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%3Faction%3Dclick%26region%3DMasthead%26pgtype%3DHomepage%26module%3DSearchSubmit%26contentCollection%3DHomepage%26t%3Dqry714%23%2FIslam%2F30days%2Fallresults%2F6%2Fallauthors%2Fnewest%2F

DA: Close court for part of NYC terror-plot trial

January 29, 2014

 

Prosecutors want to keep testimony by three key witnesses — an undercover police officer and two informants — out of public view at the trial of a man charged with plotting terror attacks with homemade bombs, a case in which police tactics are likely to become a central issue.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office wants the three to testify anonymously and in a closed courtroom at Jose Pimentel’s trial, set to start next month. A judge didn’t immediately rule on the issue at a hearing Wednesday, but he noted that there’s a high legal bar for closing courtrooms.

Prosecutors say the undercover officer and informants could be imperiled if their identities became public. But Pimentel’s lawyers say the court should stay open so the public gets a full picture of how police dealt with him during a two-year investigation.
Pimentel, a Dominican-born al-Qaida sympathizer also known as Muhammad Yusuf, maintained a website advocating jihad, or holy war, against the United States, police and prosecutors said.

He talked with one of the informants about killing soldiers, assassinating a judge or bombing police stations or the George Washington Bridge, prosecutors said. He was arrested while making a pipe bomb in the informant’s apartment in November 2011, authorities said.
American law strongly favors public trials, but courts have been closed to protect witnesses’ safety, shield classified government information, avoid traumatizing child witnesses or keep an undercover agent’s identity under wraps so he or she can continue covert work.

“Courts have to be very careful when they do this,” Pace Law School professor Bennett L. Gershman said, because appellate judges have sometimes reversed convictions when they found courtrooms were wrongly closed. In general, a judge has to establish that there’s a compelling reason to keep the public out and consider whether less restrictive alternatives would work.

Most terrorism cases are federal, but Pimentel was charged under a rarely used state terrorism law passed shortly after the Sept. 11attacks. The 29-year-old could face up to life in prison if convicted.

 

Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/da-close-court-for-part-of-nyc-terror-plot-trial/2014/01/29/6df2ac54-8917-11e3-a760-a86415d0944d_story.html

NC man sentenced in conspiracy to behead witnesses from homegrown terrorism trial

RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina man was sentenced Friday to four life terms for plotting to behead federal witnesses whose testimony helped convict him for his role in an earlier plot to slaughter U.S. servicemen and their families.

Hysen Sherifi, 29, was one of six Raleigh-area Muslims convicted in 2011 of planning to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Va., and overseas targets.

Shortly after starting his 45-year prison sentence in the terror case, Sherifi approached another inmate to help him hire a hit man to behead government informants and FBI agents. He recruited his younger brother Shkumbin Sherifi, 23, and former special education teacher Nevine Aly Elshiekh, 48, to help pay the hit man and organize the murders.

But the inmate whose help Sherifi sought turned out to be yet another government informant. FBI agents then staged an elaborate sting that involved secretly videotaped meetings with a woman posing as the go-between for a fictional hit man named Treetop and doctored photos that appeared to show the corpse of a beheaded witness in a shallow grave.

Protesting Hearings on Muslim Extremism: “Today I am a Muslim too”

In advance of Thursday’s Congressional hearings on homegrown terrorism, hundreds protested in Times Square on Sunday, as a Long Island congressman dealt with a political firestorm over his specific focus on Muslims for the hearings.

Many protesters held signs reading “Today I am a Muslim too” at a rainy protest to voice concerns that Representative Peter T. King, a Republican, is unfairly singling out Muslims in his hearings, as well as in interviews in Washington over the weekend.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a founder of a project to develop an Islamic community center near ground zero, spoke at the protests.

Islamophobia and Homophobia

Playing the homophobia card is costlier than playing the Islamophobia card. Or at least, the costs are more evenly spread across the political spectrum. Suppose Williams had said something hurtful to gay people instead of to Muslims. Suppose he had said gay men give him the creeps because he fears they’ll make sexual advances. NPR might well have fired him, but would Fox News have chosen that moment to give him a $2-million pat on the back?

As Islamophobia grows, it alienates Muslims, raising the risk of homegrown terrorism — and homegrown terrorism heightens the Islamophobia, which alienates more Muslims, and so on: a vicious circle that could carry America into the abyss. So it’s worth taking a look at why homophobia is fading; maybe the underlying dynamic is transplantable to the realm of inter-ethnic prejudice.

Theories differ as to what it takes for people to build bonds across social divides, and some theories offer more hope than others. One of the less encouraging theories grows out of the fact that both homophobia and Islamophobia draw particular strength from fundamentalist Christians.

Interview with Dr. Jocelyne Cesari

Professor Jocelyne Cesari, Director of Harvard’s Islam in the West Program discusses today’s most pressing integration issues in this interview.

She explores how Muslims in America and Europe differ, Islam’s compatibility with democracy, homegrown radicalism in the West, Switzerland’s minaret ban, France’s national identity debate, and ways to build stronger bridges between our two worlds.