The Manhattan mother of suspected bomb plotter and al Qaida sympathizer said the allegations against her son have left her devastated.
A day after Jose Pimentel, 27, was charged with plotting to build and detonate bombs in New York City, his mother, Carmen Sosa, said she did not recognize the boy she raised in the charges that have been leveled against him by the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
"This is not the way I raised my son," Sosa, 57, said during an interview outside her Hamilton Heights apartment. "I did not impart this idea on him. I don't want to see New Yorkers like me dying in New York."
Sosa said Pimentel has lived with her in an apartment building on 137th Street since 2009, and that she never saw him building a bomb.
He converted to Islam a few years ago after being raised Catholic, Sosa said, and he dedicated a lot of time to reading the Qur'an, writing about Islam on his website, trueislam1.com, and praying in the mosque on 96th Street and 3rd Avenue.
But, Sosa added, she never heard her son say he hated America or the soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Pimentel, whom officials described as a "lone wolf," is accused of planning to make three bombs and target police patrol cars, postal facilities and members of the armed forces returning home to the U.S., police said.
Sosa said she believed her son's downturn began in 2009, in Schenectady, N.Y., after he lost his job, got divorced and was not allowed to see his son, who is now 4. The circumstances around his divorce are unknown.
“He lost everything in 2009,” Sosa said. “His job, his wife, his home. Everything.”
According to Schenectady Police Department, Pimental’s troubles with the law started in November 2005, when he used a stolen credit card to purchase an Apple computer. He pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property, and in May 2006 was sentenced to five years probation.
Seeing how poorly things were going for her son in Schenectady, Sosa said she brought him back to New York City two years ago. Working seven days a week, she said she wanted to make sure she helped him until he managed to find another job.
Though it was clear that her son — whom she brought to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when he was 5 — had greatly changed from the days of childhood when he played basketball and enjoyed listening to salsa and meringue music, she did not see cause for alarm.
Sosa said she was grateful to the police department for preventing what could have turned into an even greater tragedy for the city, but also for her and her family.
“I’m a New Yorker. I always say we have to do what is right for New York,” Sosa said. “We have to be safe. In order for us to be safe, the police have to do their job. I’m not angry with them. They do what they’re supposed to do.”
Sosa added she loves her son, despite the mistakes he committed, but also wants to let justice take its due course now.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares also applauded the NYPD’s work at a press conference in Washington Heights on Monday afternoon, in front of the 34th precinct.
They said Pimentel’s terror plot was not something that would have been expected in the neighborhood, but at the same time did not think it was not surprising that another Hispanic man would be a part of a terrorist plot.
“It shows that any young person no matter what ethnic group or racial group they come from could be lured through the Internet to this level,” Espaillat said. “No neighborhood is insulated from this type of action in the United States, not in rural America, not in urban America, not in New York City.”