New York's finest have once again disrupted a terrorist plot that, in the words of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, "would have killed a lot of people." According to authorities, al Qaeda sympathizer Jose Pimentel -- a so-called "textbook terror suspect" -- was about an hour away from testing his homemade pipe bombs when the NYPD swooped in last week and collared him.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) seized on the arrest to highlight the importance of the upcoming congressional hearings on homegrown terrorism and to warn, "This threat is morphing and expanding." Fox News contributor Judith Miller seconded King's concerns, noting that, even though the law won this time, the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism is "still very real."
But just how real is the threat? In Pimentel's case, it turns out, not threatening enough to warrant the involvement of federal officials.
Even though terrorist plots are normally the purview of the FBI, the Feds declined to take part in the arrest of Pimentel. It was in fact the second time this year that the FBI distanced itself from the NYPD's own terrorist busts on the grounds that the alleged plots really didn't amount to serious threats. In May, when the NYPD arrested Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh for plotting to blow up a synagogue, the FBI conveyed another "thanks, but no thanks" to the NYPD. In just a few months, that case has already begun to crumble as a grand jury declined to indict the men on hate-crime and terrorism conspiracy charges that carried potential life sentences without parole, indicting them on lesser state terrorism and weapons possession charges instead.
As with the May 2011 plot, the NYPD's characterization of the Pimentel plot also reeks of exaggeration and alarmism. A close examination of the details so far indicates that Jose Pimentel is yet another example of a growing group of idiot homegrown jihadists. Just to name a few:
- In 2002, Iyman Faris contemplated bringing down the Brooklyn Bridge by cutting its cables;
- In 2007, the Fort Dix Six took their jihad video message to Circuit City so it could be converted into a DVD;
- In 2010, Faisal Shahzad tried to bomb Times Square by using M88 fireworks to blow up propane tanks -- and in the process locked the keys to his residence and getaway car inside his makeshift car bomb; and
- In 2011, Khalid Aldawsari tried to order an explosive ingredient and have it shipped to a freight company for pickup using his real name.
Now we can add Jose Pimentel to this list of boneheaded jihadist wannabes. Just how stupid was Pimentel?