By Jim Kouri
A Bangladesh national was arrested by federal law enforcement officials in an elaborate sting operation that involved the suspect’s alleged plot to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan, New York City, a federal law enforcement said Wednesday.
The suspected Islamic terrorist, later identified as Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, was nabbed by members of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force when he tried to detonate what he believed 1,000-pound improvised explosive device (IED) — that was furnished to him by undercover cops — in front of the Federal Reserve Bank’s headquarters on Liberty Street in the middle of New York’s busy Wall Street financial center.
The JTTF stated that the general public was never in any danger during the entire undercover operation. Throughout the investigation, FBI agents and NYPD detectives working with the JTTF were able to closely monitor Nafis as he attempted to proceed with his bomb plot.
The 21-year-old Nafis had entered the United States using a student visa in January 2012. While in the U.S. attempted to recruit other Islamists or “wannabe terrorists” to assist in perpetrating a large-scale terror attack.
According to the JTTF, Nafis also discussed potential terror targets on an Internet message board and forum with other likeminded al-Qaeda wannabe bombers.
Nafis made contact in the forum with an undercover agent, who provided him with what Nafis thought was a real explosive and the agent then drove with him in a van loaded with the phony IED to the Federal Reserve building Wednesday morning.
Nafis and the undercover operative then walked to a nearby hotel, where Nafis tried to detonate the bomb with his cell phone, according to a New York police source.
New York City’s police commissioner, Ray Kelly, said in a statement that “the city [has] recorded 15 plots since the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001 before Nafis’ attempt. He urged citizens to remain vigilant.
“After 11 years without a successful attack, it’s understandable if the public becomes complacent,” Kelly said.
FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Galligan stated, “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… severe consequences. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism.”
Nafis appeared before Judge Roanne Mann in federal court in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda. He was ordered held without bail.
A police source told Law Enforcement Examiner that it’s not certain whether Nafis will remain in federal civilian custody or will be transferred to the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military detention center since he is not a U.S. citizen and considered himself to be affiliated with al-Qaeda.