This courtroom sketch shows Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis being arraigned in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York on October 17, 2012© REUTERS/ Jane Rosenberg
A Federal Reserve Police officer stands guard in front of the New York Federal Reserve Building in New York on October 17, 2012© REUTERS/ Keith Bedford
WASHINGTON, October 18 (RIA Novosti)
Preventing what could have been a major terror attack on American soil, US authorities on Wednesday arrested a man they said attempted to detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound (454 kilogram) bomb at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York’s financial district.
The 21-year-old Bangladeshi man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, faces charges of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, according to a statement from the US Justice Department.
“The defendant came to this country intent on conducting a terrorist attack on US soil and worked with single-minded determination to carry out his plan,” said US Attorney Loretta Lynch.
Officials said Nafis’ arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which he was being monitored by the FBI and New York Police Department.
Authorities said at Nafis’ request, an undercover agent supplied him with 20 bags of purported explosives and Nafis purchased components for the bomb’s detonator.
On Wednesday morning, Nafis allegedly met the undercover agent in Long Island, outside of New York City, and then assembled what he believed to be a working bomb inside a van. Officials said they then drove to the Federal Reserve Bank and during the trip Nafis attached the explosives and armed the device.
Authorities said they parked next to the bank, where Nafis walked to a nearby hotel and recorded a video statement directed at the American people.
In it, he allegedly said, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.”
Later, Nafis is accused of attempting to detonate the bomb with a cellphone before he was arrested.
Law enforcement officials said that Nafis was being monitored throughout the sting operation and stressed that the public was never in any danger and that the explosives in the van were inactive.
According to a criminal complaint, Nafis traveled to the United States in January 2012 for the purpose of conducting a terrorist assault.
The complaint alleges that Nafis had proposed multiple targets for his attack, including a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange before deciding on the Federal Reserve Bank.
The bank is located just blocks from the World Trade Center site, and has the most gold bullion in the world.
Nafis allegedly wrote that he wanted to “destroy America” and he believed the most efficient way to do this was to target the US economy. In this statement, Nafis also included quotations from “our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden,” the Justice Department said.
“Al Qaeda operatives and those they have inspired have tried time and time again to make New York City their killing field,” New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. “We are up to 15 plots and counting since 9/11.”
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