Plot foiled to attack Federal Reserve in Manhattan

October 17, 2012 8:08:58 PM PDT
One man was arrested in a federal terrorism sting targeting the Federal Reserve in lower Manhattan.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis , 21, was arrested this morning in downtown Manhattan after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street in lower Manhattan's financial district.

The suspect was arraigned in federal court in Downtown Brooklyn and remanded without bail.

Agents set up a sting and he was caught and taken into custody according to officials.

Authorities say the suspect parked a van that he thought was filled with explosives.

He then tried to set them off with a cell phone call made from the Millennium Hotel, across from the World Trade Center, officals said.


But the attempt turned out to be a big sting. The van did not explode, and the suspect was arrested by federal agents.

"Whether al-Qaeda operatives like Iyman Faris or those inspired by them like Jose Pimentel, terrorists have tried time and again to make New York City their killing field. We're up to 15 plots and counting since 9/11, with the Federal Reserve now added to a list of iconic targets that previously included the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, and Citicorp Center. After 11 years without a successful attack, it's understanding if the public becomes complacent. But that's a luxury law enforcement can't afford. Vigilance is our watchword now and into the foreseeable future. That's why we have over 1,000 police officers assigned to counterterrorism duties every day, and why we built the Domain Awareness System. I want to commend the NYPD detectives and FBI agents of the Joint Terrorist Task Force for the work they did in the case and in other ways every day to help New York City safe from terrorists." said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

A joint FBI/NYPD operation flagged the suspect on the internet three months ago.

Nafis read the online terror magazine called "Inspire", it was originally published by Anwar al Awlaki, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula who was killed by an American drone in Yemen.

When Nafis came here in January, he set out immediately to find possible accomplices, using Facebook and other internet based resources to find like minded potential terrorists.

It proved to be his undoing.

What he found instead was an undercover FBI informant who monitored his every move.

The authorities say before he tried to detonate the bomb from his room in the Millennium Hotel, he first made a video claiming responsibility.

In it he said this: "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the case is one more reminder that New York remains a target:

"New York continues to be very much in the mind frame of terrorism. This individual came here with the express purpose of committing a terrorist attack; he was motivated by al-Qaeda. We see this threat as being with us for a long time to come."

Kelly said security is always a precaution and there are about a thousand officers in the counterterrorism division. He didn't specify if any additional measures were being taken.

The defendant faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.

According to the criminal complaint filed today in the Eastern District of New York, defendant Nafis, a Bangladeshi national, traveled to the United States in January 2012 for the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

Agents with the Department of Homeland Security had their hands full as they left Nafis's Jamaica, Queens apartment.

With the TV cameras rolling they hauled out box after box, most clearly marked, some allegedly containing the suspect's belongings, including documents.

Rarely are federal law enforcement sweeps this public.

It was the culmination of what joint terrorism task force officials trumpeted as a successful investigation that nabbed a 21-year-old, allegedly focused on terrorism, in the act.

Investigators allege that the suspect's plan was his own.

He'd been in the U.S. since January and was currently living with four other people in a second floor apartment at the intersection of 93 Avenue and 172 Street.

He would climb these stairs to get to the door and didn't seem to make much of an impression on his neighbors.

Multiple sources tell Eyewitness News that Nafis hadn't lived there for long.

The landlord says Nafis was a guest of his cousin and that he wasn't planning an extended stay.

"He said one month he was going to stay," the landlord said.

But some residents in this neighborhood say, the Bangladeshi national stayed long enough, bringing the type of attention and scrutiny, they'd rather not have.

"It's very crazy to know that especially since he's Bengali, and I am too it brings us in a bad position. People will have this stereotype because of this incident," said Lamia Sikdr, a neighbor.


Nafis, who reported having overseas connections to al-Qaeda, allegedly attempted to recruit individuals to form a terrorist cell inside the United States. Nafis also actively sought out al-Qaeda contacts within the United States to assist him in carrying out an attack. Unbeknownst to Nafis, one of the individuals he attempted to recruit was actually a source for the FBI.

"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure. The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. It is important to emphasize that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant's 'accomplices' were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism," said FBI Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan.

The complaint alleges that Nafis proposed several targets for his attack, including a highranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange.

Ultimately, Nafis decided to conduct a bombing operation against the New York Federal Reserve Bank. In a written statement intended to claim responsibility for the terrorist bombing of the Federal Reserve Bank on behalf of al- Qaeda, Nafis wrote that he wanted to "destroy America" and that he believed the most efficient way to accomplish this goal was to target America's economy.

In this statement, Nafis also included quotations from "our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden" to justify the fact that Nafis expected that the attack would involve the killing of women and children. (Some information from the Associated Press)

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