The mother of a "lone wolf" accused of plotting to attack police stations and post offices with homemade bombs apologized to New Yorkers on Monday, even as questions arose about why federal authorities — who typically handle terrorism cases — declined to get involved in what city officials called a serious threat.
The mother of Jose Pimentel spoke to reporters outside her upper Manhattan home the day after her son was arraigned in state court on terrorism-related charges.
"I didn't raise my son in that way," Carmen Sosa said. "I feel bad about this situation."
She also praised the NYPD, saying, "I think they handled it well."
Officials with the NYPD, which conducted the undercover investigation using a confidential informant and a bugged apartment, said the department had to move quickly because Pimentel was about to test a pipe bomb made out of match heads, nails and other ingredients bought at neighborhood hardware and discount stores.
Two law enforcement officials said Monday that the NYPD's Intelligence Division had sought to get the FBI involved at least twice as the investigation unfolded. Both times, the FBI concluded that Pimentel lacked the mental capacity to act on his own, they said.
The FBI thought Pimentel "didn't have the predisposition or the ability to do anything on his own," one of the officials said.
The officials were not authorized to speak about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity. The FBI's New York office declined to comment on Monday.
Pimentel is being held on charges alleging he plotted to blow up police and post offices in New York City.
Mayor Bloomberg said at City Hall Sunday evening that Pimentel, of Washington Heights, was "inspired by al-Qaida propaganda" but not part of any larger group and was not believed to be working with others. He was also "motivated by his own resentment of the presence of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Bloomberg said.
Law enforcement officials had been watching Pimentel, who has also lived in Schenectady, N.Y., since 2009.
Officials said Pimentel had gone from talking about terrorist acts to recently obtaining explosive material to make pipe bombs.
Defense attorney Joseph Zablocki said at Pimentel's arraignment Sunday that his client's behavior leading up to the arrest was not that of a conspirator trying to conceal some violent scheme.
Zablocki said Pimentel was public about his activities and was not trying to hide anything.
"I don't believe that this case is nearly as strong as the people believe,'' Zablocki said. "He (Pimentel) has this very public online profile. ... This is not the way you go about committing a terrorist attack.''