New York 'lone wolf' terror plotter pleads guilty

NEW YORK (AFP) - A US citizen dubbed a "lone wolf" terrorist and Al-Qaeda sympathizer has pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb targets in New York and kill US soldiers, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Jose Pimentel, 29, a Muslim convert born in the Dominican Republic, will be sentenced on March 25, the New York district attorney's office said.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life.

Pimentel was arrested by the bomb squad in November 2011 after being under surveillance by New York police for about two years.

He was accused of plotting to bomb police cars and post offices and kill US servicemen returning from Afghanistan and Iraq to protest the American military intervention in those countries.

Pimentel, who allegedly was building a pipe bomb at the time of his arrest, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the first degree as a crime of terrorism.

He initially pleaded not guilty. US federal authorities also declined to take up the case, leaving it to the New York district attorney's office to pursue.

Pimentel's attorneys Susan Walsh and Lori Cohen early on described the government's case as "overreaching" and an example of an overzealous and wrongheaded effort to stamp out terror.

According to documents filed in court, Pimentel collected spare parts such as incendiary powder, pipes with drilled holes, electronic circuits, clocks and nails to build pipe bombs.

The prosecution says each of the components was proscribed in a step-by-step guide in Al-Qaeda's English-language Inspire Magazine on how to make a bomb designed to maximize casualties.

Officials described him as a "lone wolf" terrorist who was not part of a larger extremist cell.