Federal Reserve ‘bomber’ plotted to kill Obama: Foreign student, 21, who ‘tried to blow up Manhattan bank with 1,000lb car bomb planned to take out President’
- Quazi Nafis, 21, arrested on Wednesday in elaborate FBI sting operation
- Nafis had arrived in U.S. ten months ago on student visa
- Would-be terrorist supplied with fake 1,000-pound bomb and parked in front of Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan
- Tried repeatedly to detonate ‘bomb’ with cell phone but failed
- FBI and NYPD said the public was never in danger
The 21-year-old student behind an alleged terror plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve also planned to target a high-ranking U.S. official, believed to be President Obama.
Quazi Nafis, from Bangladesh, was arrested early on Wednesday after he allegedly tried to remotely detonate a fake 1,000-pound car bomb outside the building in lower Manhattan, only a few blocks from the World Trade Center.
The plot was foiled by a major FBI and NYPD operation which led to Nafis being supplied with fake explosives by an undercover agent.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that a high-ranking official had been in the alleged terrorist’s sights. Sources said that the official was President Obama.
The sting: Quazi Nafis, 21, allegedly entered the U.S. on a student visa from Bangladesh with the sole intent of carrying out a terrorist attack
Nafis arrived in the U.S. on a student visa in January, under the guise of going to Southeast Missouri State University but was allegedly plotting an attack.
He was believed to have been working towards a degree in cyber security, according to CBS2 but had been transferring his studies to New York.
His home in Jamaica, Queens was surrounded by NYPD and FBI this afternoon as they removed boxes of material.
Authorities tracked Nafis using Facebook and other social media including a Google+ account but the information was taken down on Wednesday.
Commissioner Kelly said: ‘New York continues to be very clearly in the mind frame of terrorists.’
It emerged that the suspect – Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis – had left a chilling video message in which he pledged to ‘destroy America.’
Investigation: Law enforcement remove boxes of material from the home of bombing suspect Quazi Nafis in Queens, New York
Alleged target: Obama pictured making a speech today at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa
According to the FBI complaint, he was acting on behalf of al-Qaeda, and had come to the United States in January with jihadist intentions.
Nafis was reportedly influenced by al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and the radical publication Inspire.
The sting operation represents a major coup for the FBI, and is likely to heighten tension in a city haunted by the 9/11 attacks 11 years ago.
Nafis believed that he was going to detonate a 1,000 in front of the Federal Reserve Building, located on Liberty Street, and had recorded a video message prior to the attack saying that he intended to deal a major blow to the American economy.
After receiving the false bomb, he drove with the FBI agent from a warehouse outside the city to the Federal Reserve building.
The two parked the van in front of the bank and walked to the nearby Millennium Hotel, according to WABC. At the hotel, he recorded a video where he said: ‘We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.’
Plot: Pedestrians pass the Federal Reserve Building today; authorities arrested a Bangladeshi man they said was plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve
Sting operation: The FBI arrested a man who allegedly plotted to blow up the Federal Bank in New York, which is only blocks away from ground zero
Nafis appeared in federal court in Brooklyn earlier today to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.
Destruction: Narfis allegedly told the undercover agent that he wanted to ‘destroy America’
If found guilty, he faces life in prison.
Wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans, he was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea.
His defense attorney had no comment outside court. The defendant ‘reported having connections’ to al-Qaeda, prosecutors said.
But there was no allegation that he received training or direction from the terrorist group.
He told the undercover FBI agent during the drive to the Federal Reserve that his jihadist views had been shaped by al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
According to the criminal complaint, Nafis said: ‘All I had in my mind are how to destroy America… I came up to this conclusion that targeting America’s economy is most efficient way to draw the path of obliteration of America as well as the path of establishment of Khilapha.’
He continued, according to the complaint: ‘I decided to attack the Federal Reserve bank of New York which is by far the largest (by assets),most active (by volume) and most influential of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks.
‘New York Federal Reserve Bank implements monetary policy, supervises and regulates financial institutions and helps maintain the nation’s payment systems.’
Home: A man stands outside the residence of Quazi Nafis, the alleged Federal Reserve plot suspect
Tactics: New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly speaks to the media about a foiled terrorist plot in the financial district on Wednesday
Prosecutors say Nafis traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out an attack. In July, he contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell, the criminal complaint said.
In further conversations, authorities said Nafis proposed several spots for his attack, including the New York Stock Exchange – and that in a written letter taking responsibility for the Federal Reserve job he was about to carry out, he said he wanted to ‘destroy America.’
Other communications took place through Facebook, the complaint said. The complaint stated that Nafis learned how to make a bomb from a magazine article published in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula magazine ‘Inspire.’
The magazine contained an article entitled, ‘How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen with your Mom,’ telling readers how to construct a detonating bomb with everyday household items.
NYPD Commissioner Kelly said: ‘Inspire Magazine, which Awlaki was the prime mover behind, was the magazine or this is the article that he read that justified to him the killing of children, the killing of women.’
The foiled Federal Reserve plot came as the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on New York told a court today that the American government was to blame for the 2,976 people killed.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed spoke during a pretrial hearing in Guantanamo Bay attended by many of the victims’ families where he refused to accept any guilt.
Federal prosecutors said that Nafis was closely monitored by the FBI in New York and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as the NYPD, and the public was never in danger.
The building is only blocks away from ground zero and the nearly-complete One World Trade Center construction, an area full of NYPD officers and other law enforcement officials.
In addition, the bank is close to many highly-populated tourist attractions, residents, and offices.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly praised his police force, saying in a statement, ‘Al-Qaeda operatives and those they have inspired have tried time and again to make New York City their killing field.
‘We are 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.
Arraignment: Nafis was arraigned at the Brooklyn Federal Court building this afternoon
Arrest: Police cars are stationed outside a building in Jamaica, Queens, today, where Nafis was arrested in connection with a plot to detonate a bomb at the Federal Reserve Bank
He said that while it may be easy to get complacent, more than 1,000 NYPD officers are assigned to counterterrorism duties daily.
He concluded: ‘I want to commend the NYPD detectives and FBI agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the work they did in the case and U.S. Attorney Lynch and her dedicated team in prosecuting it.’
When he met this morning with the undercover FBI agent, Nafis mentioned that he had a ‘Plan B’ should his van bombing plot fail. He allegedly told the agent that he was also considering a suicide attack.
He faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in addition to attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.
According to the FBI release, Nafis believed that he was going to detonate a 1,000 pound bomb in front of the Federal Reserve Building, located on Liberty Street.
Location: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is located in the Financial District in lower Manhattan, blocks away from ground zero and One World Trade Center
Proximity: The Federal Reserve is only blocks away from the new World Trade Center constructions
Keeping watch: Federal Reserve Police stand in front of the Federal Reserve Bank after the alleged attack plot was revealed
The bank, 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 Bangladeshi native reported having overseas connections to al-Qaeda, and traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out an attack, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn.
He was trying to recruit people, but one was a secret FBI source, and Nafis was closely monitored as he tried to act out his plot.
Nafis was awaiting a federal court hearing later Wednesday where he is facing a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support for al-Qaeda.
Nafis was living in Queens. It’s not clear if he had a lawyer yet.