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Father of New York terror suspect disputes charges

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:39 PM EST, Tue November 22, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Juan Jose Pimentel says his son wasn't involved in terrorism
  • Father: Jose Pimentel became depressed after he and his wife separated
  • He "was never a fanatic," the father says, describing his son's Muslim faith
  • The 27-year-old is accused of plotting bomb attacks in New York

(CNN) -- The father of a man accused of plotting terror attacks in New York says the charges against his son don't add up.

"It is an accusation that does not seem very true, because my son was never involved in any terrorist acts," father Juan Jose Pimentel, 51, told CNN en Español Tuesday. "My son is not capable of something like that."

Pimentel, who lives in the Dominican Republic, said his son -- 27-year-old Jose Pimentel -- had been depressed for the past two years, ever since he and his wife separated. Juan Jose Pimentel spoke to CNN en Español by phone and also in his hometown of La Vega.

"He had his son and she took his son and he was depressed because of this. But he has been a happy and normal boy and never had any problem with terrorism," Juan Jose Pimentel said.

Authorities described Jose Pimentel as a "lone wolf" who was inspired by al Qaeda propaganda to plot attacks against police officers, patrol cars and troops returning from military service abroad.

Juan Jose Pimentel said his son converted to Islam five years ago, but never appeared to be an extremist.

"He followed this religion but he was never a fanatic. He led a normal life, including coming to this country," Juan Jose Pimentel said. "He didn't change. He continued to be a normal person."

Authorities arraigned Jose Pimentel Sunday night in a New York court on state charges of possession of a bomb for terrorism, conspiracy as a crime of terrorism, soliciting support for a terrorist act, being a felon in possession of a weapon and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and arson, according to a criminal complaint.

He allegedly told police he was an hour away from completing his first bomb when he was arrested, according to the complaint.

"Pimentel's behavior morphed from simply talking about such acts to actions -- namely, bomb making," New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters.

Kelly said Jose Pimentel was a follower of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical U.S.-born cleric who rose to become a top figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula before a U.S. drone strike killed him this year in Yemen.

In August, the suspect allegedly decided to carry out the bomb plot, Kelly said. He "jacked up his speed" after al-Awlaki died on September 30, according to the police commissioner.

Jose Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, according to the criminal complaint, had a "very active and very public online profile," prosecutors said. They cited the website TrueIslam1.

Jose Pimentel's attorney, Joseph Zablocki, said Monday that the case against his client is nowhere near as strong as authorities say.

"As they admit, he has a very public online profile, and that flies in the face of everything that they've said," Zablocki said at the hearing. "This is not the way you go about committing terrorist attacks."

CNN's Lucia Navarro, Edwin Mesa and Michael Pearson and journalist Diulka Perez contributed to this report.

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