Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who is 21, was arrested yesterday in an undercover effort. He attempted to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb, according to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Located at 33 Liberty Street, the bank is just a few blocks from the site of the former twin towers at the World Trade Center, which were destroyed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Authorities highlighted that the plot never presented an actual risk. However, they claimed the case demonstrated the value of using sting operations to neutralize young extremists eager to harm Americans.
Nafis is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and provide material support to the terrorism group al-Qaeda. So if convicted, he faces a sentence of as long as life in prison.
According to Bloomberg’s Business Week, appearing yesterday in Brooklyn federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne L Mann, Nafis wore a T-shirt and jeans and said little during the proceeding. He didn’t request bail. Heidi Cesare, his court-appointed defense lawyer, declined to comment to reporters after the brief hearing.
The defendant had sought assurances from an undercover agent posing as an al-Qaeda contact that the terrorist group would support the operation.
“The thing that I want to do, ask you about, is that, the thing I’m doing, it’s under al-Qaeda?” Nafis was recorded saying during a meeting in bugged hotel room in Queens, according to the complaint.
As CBC News reports, in a September meeting in the same hotel room, Nafis “confirmed he was ready to kill himself during the course of the attack, but indicated he wanted to return to Bangladesh to see his family one last time to set his affairs in order,” the complaint said.
But there was no allegation that Nafis actually received training or direction from the terrorist group.
As it became known, Nafis, who came to the U.S., used a student visa. He lived in Queens, New York, told an informant for the FBI. In July Nafis wanted to wage “jihad” and had plans for a terror attack, according to a criminal complaint.
He communicated with co-conspirators, including the informant, on the phone and on the social network Facebook. Moreover, a Twitter account with the suspect’s name and photo had six followers and two messages and was linked to a Facebook page that had been taken down.
So, at first Nafis suggested assassinating a “high ranking US Government official” before turning his attentions to the country’s financial system, thus first planning to blow up the New York Stock Exchange before settling on the Federal Reserve.
Initially he planned a suicide-bomb attack. But his plans changed because he was refused permission by the agents posing as ‘al Qaeda’ operatives to return to Bangladesh. A man wanted see his family one last time.
Nafis explained that he hoped the attack would be “very big” and would put Muslims “one step closer to run the whole world”. As the charging document states, Nafis “understood that the attack he was planning would result in a large number of civilian casualties… but still wanted to proceed with the attack.”
But the Federal Reserve is one of the most fortified buildings in the city, where a network of thousands of private and police cameras watch for suspicious activity. And Nafis’s extensive efforts to strike at the heart of the nation’s financial system were foiled.