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Accused NYC bomb builder gets 16 years

An accused bomb builder who claimed he was entrapped by NYPD informants was sentenced to 16 years in prison Tuesday in state court in Manhattan for attempted weapons possession as a crime of terrorism.

Jose Pimentel, a Dominican-born Muslim convert, agreed to the sentence last month as part of a plea deal on the eve of trial in which Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance dropped more serious charges of conspiracy and weapons possession as a terrorism crime that carried a sentence of up to life.

The case was one of the first prosecuted under a state terrorism law. NYPD informers used dubious tactics, including supplying and smoking marijuana with Pimentel to get him to work on a bomb, the defense said. The FBI declined to pursue a federal case.

In a two-page news release, Vance did not mention the behavior of the informants once, describing Pimentel, 29, as a radical inspired by al-Qaida who maintained a website with bomb-making recipes that advocated violence against the United States.

"The threat of terrorism is increasingly coming from radicalized local actors living in our communities," Vance said.

Prosecutors alleged that during a yearlong investigation before Pimentel's arrest in 2011, he collected components for a pipe bomb described in an al-Qaida magazine -- including pipes with drilled holes, incendiary powder, ignition circuits and nails for shrapnel.

The DA said the case was an example of preventive law enforcement "We are ready and able to stop acts of terrorism before they occur," he said..

In February, when Pimentel pleaded guilty, defense lawyers described him as a struggling young man who was manipulated, and said the case raised questions about "who is recruiting whom" in law enforcement's pursuit of terrorism. But they said their client did not want to risk a longer prison term by trying an entrapment defense. Pimentel's defense lawyers could not be reached TuesdayLaw enforcement sources have said that the FBI declined to become involved in the case because of doubts about whether Pimentel was ready or able to act without the involvement of the NYPD informants.

With The Associated Press

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