Bangladeshi Terrorist Arrested for NY Fed Bank Attack Plot
A Bangladeshi man who came to the United States to wage jihad has been arrested in an elaborate FBI sting after attempting to blow up a fake car bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan, US authorities said.
Before trying to carry out the alleged terrorism plot, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis went to a warehouse to help assemble a 1,000-pound bomb using inert material, according to a criminal complaint, CBS News reported.
He also asked an undercover agent to videotape him saying, "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," the complaint said.
Agents grabbed the 21-year-old Nafis - armed with a cellphone he believed was rigged as a detonator - after he made several attempts to blow up the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve.
It is possible US authorities may take other people into custody in this case. They are looking at least five other people who are associates of Nafis. If Nafis is convicted in this case, he could face life in prison.
US authorities emphasized that the plot never posed an actual risk. However, they claimed the case demonstrated the value of using sting operations to neutralize young extremists eager to harm Americans.
"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure," said Mary Galligan, acting head of the FBI's New York office. "The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences."
Nafis appeared in federal court in Brooklyn to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Al Qaeda. Wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans, he was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea. His defense attorney had no comment outside court.
The defendant "reported having connections" to Al Qaeda, prosecutors said. But there was no allegation that he received training or direction from the terrorist group. Nafis was living in Queens.
Prosecutors say Nafis traveled to the US in January to carry out an attack. In July, he contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell, the criminal complaint said.
In further conversations, authorities said Nafis proposed several spots for his attack, including the New York Stock Exchange -- and that in a written letter taking responsibility for the Federal Reserve job he was about to carry out, he said he wanted to "destroy America." Other communications took place through Facebook, the complaint said.
According to CBS News sources, the Bangladeshi's arrest was the result of a several-month investigation, and that the suspect is from Jamaica, Queens, in New York. Nafis was enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University for the spring semester earlier this year pursuing a degree in cyber security; he is not currently enrolled there.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Nafis came to the US on a student visa. He said the man came under the guise of going to school in Missouri but was really plotting an attack. Kelly said the city remains at the top of the terrorist target list.
The bank in New York, located at 33 Liberty St., is one of 12 branches around the country that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, make up the Federal Reserve System that serves as the central bank of the United States. It sets interest rates.
The Fed is also home to "the world's largest accumulation of gold," according to the bank's website. Dozens of governments and central banks store a portion of their gold reserves in high-security vaults deep beneath the building. In recent years, it held 216 million troy ounces of gold, or more than a fifth of all global monetary gold reserves, making it a bigger bullion depository than Fort Knox.
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