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Bomb plot: New York 'lone wolf' was one hour away from finishing his bomb

Bomb plot: New York may have been saved from a series of terrorist attacks after police aprehended a man suspected of planning bombings throughout the city but the FBI felt the suspect lacked the mental capacity or ability to have carried out the bomb plot.

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The arrest marked the second time this year that the police department took the unusual step of working with a state prosecutor to bring a terrorism case. In May, two men were indicted on charges they told an NYPD undercover detective about their desire to attack synagogues.

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A grand jury declined to indict Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh on the most serious charge initially brought against them — a high-level terror conspiracy count that carried the potential for life in prison without parole. They were, however, indicted on lesser state terrorism and hate crime charges, including one punishable by up to 32 years behind bars.

Attorneys for Ferhani said hate crime charges and a rarely used state terrorism law were misapplied to what they have called a case of police entrapment.

State prosecutors insist that there's ample evidence that Pimentel went well beyond merely talking about terrorism — and that he was acting on his own initiative.

"The people whom we're prosecuting have well crossed that line," Adam Kaufmann, head of the district attorney's investigative division, said Monday. "They've gone from sort of espousing an idea to creating a plan to act upon it."

At an arraignment where Pimentel was ordered held without bail, prosecutors said investigators have "countless hours" of audio and video in this case. And in a criminal complaint, an intelligence division detective alleges Pimentel told him after the arrest that he was about an hour away from finishing the bomb and felt Islamic law obligates all Muslims to wage war against Americans to avenge U.S. military action in their homelands.

A former federal prosecutor praised the police and state prosecutors for going through with the investigation and charges.

"A person who puts out conspiratorial information and then takes steps to build a bomb should not be walking the streets of New York," whatever his mental state or his interactions with an informant, said Michael Wildes, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn who worked on terrorism-related cases. "Considering the facts that have been revealed to the public, the decision was done well, in this instance, to go ahead with this case and for the FBI not to be the lead agency."

Publicly, NYPD and federal officials claim they have a strong working relationship. But behind the scenes, there has been tension ever since the department mounted its own aggressive anti-terrorism effort, including undercover investigations targeting potential homegrown threats.

The effort is needed, NYPD officials say, because the city remains a prime terrorist target a decade after the Sept. 11 attack. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there have been at least 14 foiled plots against the city, including the latest suspected scheme.

The most serious threats came from Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad, who tried to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010 and is now serving a life sentence, and Najibullah Zazi, who targeted the subway system a year earlier. Zazi pleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges and is awaiting sentencing.

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