This afternoon, a 21-year-old admitted-jihadist pleaded guilty in a New York City courtroom to attempting to blowup a major financial institution, according to a federal law enforcement agent.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis pleaded guilty to attempting to detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district.
The charge to which Nafis pleaded guilty, attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta Lynch. His sentencing is scheduled for May 30, 2013, before Chief Judge Carol B. Amon, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn.
According to documents filed in the case, Nafis, a Bangladeshi national, traveled to the United States in January 2012 with the intent to fight violent jihad. Nafis attempted to recruit multiple individuals to form a terrorist cell inside the United States. He brought with him digital media containing bomb-making instructions and speeches by Anwar al-Awlaki, a now deceased leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
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 a source for the FBI. During their subsequent investigation, FBI agents and NYPD detectives working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force closely monitored Nafis as he attempted to implement his plan.
Nafis proposed several targets for terrorist attack, including a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange. Ultimately, Nafis decided to conduct a bombing operation against the Federal Reserve Bank.
In a written statement he devised 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 killing of women and children that Nafis expected would result from the attack.
During the investigation, Nafis came into contact with an FBI undercover agent who posed as an al-Qaeda facilitator. At Nafis’s request, the undercover agent supplied Nafis with 20 50-pound bags of purported explosives. Nafis then worked to store the material and assemble the explosive device for his attack. Nafis purchased components for the bomb’s detonator and conducted surveillance for his attack on multiple occasions in New York City’s financial district in lower Manhattan.
Throughout his interactions with the undercover agent, Nafis repeatedly asserted that the plan was his own and was the reason he had come to the United States.
On Oct. 17, 2012, the day of the planned attack, Nafis met the undercover agent and traveled in a van to a warehouse located in the Eastern District of New York. During the trip to the warehouse, Nafis explained to the undercover agent that he had a “Plan B” that involved conducting a suicide bombing operation in the event that the attack was thwarted by New York City Police officers.
Upon arriving at the warehouse, Nafis assembled what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb inside the van. Nafis and the undercover agent then drove to the New York Federal Reserve Bank. During this drive, Nafis armed the purported bomb by assembling the detonator and attaching it to the explosives. Nafis and the undercover agent parked the van next to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, exited the van, and walked to a nearby hotel.
In the hotel room, Nafis recorded a video statement to the American public which he intended to release in connection with the attack. During this video statement, Nafis stated, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.” Nafis then repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to detonate the bomb, which had been assembled using the inert explosives provided by the undercover agent. JTTF agents arrested Nafis immediately after he attempted to detonate the bomb.
“Rezwanul Nafis today admitted that he came to America for the purpose of conducting terrorist attacks, that he tried to recruit others into his plans, and that he ultimately concocted and attempted to carry out an attack against the New York Federal Reserve Bank,” said Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today, “Nafis is just one of the more recent examples of individuals charged in terrorist plots against targets in New York City. There have been 16 plots against the city that we know of since the World Trade Center Twin Towers were destroyed in 2001. Time and again, individuals intent on making a violent terrorist statement select New York City as their venue. That’s why, as in many other cases, the NYPD cooperated closely with federal prosecutors and the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI to bring Nafis to justice.”