Man gets 30 years in foiled Lower Manhattan Federal Reserve bomb plot

August 9, 2013 8:31:55 AM PDT
The man who pleaded guilty in a failed plot to blow up the Federal Reserve in Lower Manhattan was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday.

Quazi Ahsan Nafis, 22, faced life in prison.

He was arrested last year after he conspired with undercover FBI agents who supplied him with a fake bomb. Investigators say Nafis selected his target, drove a van loaded with 1,000 pounds of dummy explosives up to the door of the bank and tried to set it off.

They say he used a cellphone he thought had been rigged as a detonator. But it was all fake, part of a federal undercover sting operation.

In a letter to the court, he claims depression drove him to Islamist extremism. He said he was extremely sorry for what he had done, and that after spending time in prison, he now loves Americans.

During the investigation, Nafis spoke of his admiration for Osama bin Laden, talked of writing an article about his plot for an al-Qaida-affiliated magazine and said he would be willing to be a martyr but preferred to go home to his family after carrying out the attack, authorities said.

And he also talked about wanting to kill President Barack Obama and bomb the New York Stock Exchange, officials said.

Nafis, who was working as a busboy at a Manhattan restaurant at the time of his arrest, came to the U.S. as a student. His parents said he was terrible in school in Bangladesh and that he persuaded them to send him to study in the U.S. as a way of improving his job prospects. They don't believe he was planning an attack.

He moved to Missouri, where he studied cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri State University. He also became vice president of the school's Muslim Student Association and began attending a mosque. But he withdrew after one semester and requested over the summer that his records be transferred to a school in Brooklyn. The university declined to identify which school.

The Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan, 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 Federal Reserve is one of the most fortified buildings in the city, smack in the middle of a massive security effort headed by the New York Police Department where a network of thousands of private and police cameras watch for suspicious activity.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)