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NYC Police Arrest Bomb Plot Suspect

Jose Pimentel, 27, is seen in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. New York police arrested Pimentel on suspicion of building a pipe bomb he planned to use against U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said, November 20, 2011. Auth

Police in New York have arrested a man they say was plotting to attack post offices, police cars and soldiers returning from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters Sunday 27-year-old Jose Pimentel was inspired by al-Qaida, but that he was working as a "lone wolf," and not as part of a larger conspiracy.

The city's police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, said the suspect had already begun building three pipe bombs when police arrested him Saturday afternoon.

Prosecutors said at a hearing late Sunday that Pimentel was about an hour away from completing the explosive devices.

"It was from the defendant's mouth that we'd learned that he was approximately one hour from completing these explosive devices," Kelly told the judge at the hearing late Sunday.

Pimentel has been charged with conspiring to build a bomb for terrorist purposes and possessing tools to wage a campaign of violence.

At a press conference late Sunday, Kelly said the suspect planned to test the bombs by planting them in mailboxes and detonating them. He said Pimentel hoped that once the bombing campaign started, the public "would know that there were mujahedeen in the city."

The suspect's defense lawyer, Joseph Zablocki, told the judge Sunday that the case is a "misguided effort."

"This is where the NYPD terrorist unit decides to use their finances to go after an open and public, what they claim to be a terrorist. I think it's a misguided effort, but here's where we are," said Zablocki.

The judge denied Pimentel bail.

Authorities said the U.S. citizen was a convert to Islam and a follower of the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed earlier this year in a U.S. airstrike in Yemen.

Police say Pimentel tried to communicate with American-born al-Awlaki but never received a response. They say his efforts were reenergized by al-Awlaki's death.

New York City's police commissioner Raymond Kelly says his extremism made "even some like-minded friends nervous."

Police said Pimentel was using a bomb-making manual called "How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mother", and that he had been under surveillance for more than two years before his arrest.

Authorities say Pimentel maintained a website, and was considering changing his name to Osama Hussein to honor his heroes, Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

The suspect lived in an apartment in Manhattan with his uncle. Their neighbor, Alexis Smith, says she is shocked.

"It's pretty surreal actually. It's nice to know he was only working alone. But it's really surreal and it hasn't sunken in," stated Smith.

Authorities said Pimentel is a naturalized American citizen, who was born in the Dominican Republic and has lived most of his life in New York.