New York, Oct. 17 (Reuters, AP): The Federal Bureau of Investigation today arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man on charges he attempted to blow up the New York Federal Reserve building.
He was planning to use what he believed was a 1,000-pound or 453kg bomb, federal authorities said after claiming to have thwarted the plot through an undercover sting operation. Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaida, the US department of justice said in a statement.
The public was not in danger, because the explosives provided to Nafis by the undercover agent were never in working condition.
Nafis travelled to the US in January 2012 and considered several targets for his attack, including a high-ranking government official and the New York Stock Exchange, federal prosecutors said. But in the end decided to focus on the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, according to the criminal complaint. The targeted building is located just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site.
The reported sting operation involved the FBI and New York Police Department. The suspect parked a van filled with what he believed were explosives outside the building and tried to detonate it.
But his associates were actually undercover officers who arrested him at the scene — and the bomb was not real. Federal prosecutors say the man was monitored closely by the FBI in New York and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The Federal Reserve could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier in the day, the suspect went to a warehouse and assembled what he believed to be the bomb, using inert explosives provided by federal agents. He also recorded a videotaped statement in which he said: “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” the federal prosecutors said.
Nafis, in a letter taking responsibility for the Federal Reserve job he was about to carry out, said he wanted to “destroy America”, according to the officials. The Bangladeshi native reported having overseas connections to al Qaida, according to the complaint filed in a federal court in Brooklyn. He was trying to recruit people, but one was a secret FBI source, and Nafis was closely monitored as he tried to act out his plot.