FBI arrests man accused of New York terror plot
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Wednesday 17 October 2012
A 21 year old man was arrested in Manhattan yesterday on suspicion of plotting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve in the city’s bustling financial district.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was nabbed as the result of a sting operation after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he believed to be a bomb at the Federal Reserve Bank building on Liberty Street in lower Manhattan, only a few blocks away from the site of the World Trade Centre. The Bank, the clearing house for some of the world’s largest financial institutions, is a key part of America’s economic infrastructure. Deep underneath the main building, high-security vaults house vast gold reserves, the largest such repository of the precious metal in the world.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation said the explosives the suspect allegedly attempted to use had been “rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public”. He faces charges of attempting use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to “provide material support” to al-Qa’ida.
According to details released by the FBI, Ahsan Nafis, who was identified as a Bangladeshi national, travelled to the US in January with the alleged aim of conducting an attack. The authorities claim he was wrong footed when he attempted form a terrorist cell to assist him with the attack, unwittingly approaching someone who they say was an FBI source. Later, as the string unfolded, the 21 year old came into contact with an FBI agent posing as “an al-Qa’ida facilitator”.
The criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York alleges that the suspect first proposed a number of other targets for the attack, including the New York Stock Exchange. He is also alleged to have considered an unidentified high-ranking US official.
“In a written statement intended to claim responsibility for the terrorist bombing of the Federal Reserve Bank on behalf of al-Qa’ida, 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,” the FBI said.
He was arrested yesterday when he met the undercover agent and drove in a van to a New York warehouse, reportedly in Long Island, where he proceeded to assemble what he allegedly thought was a 1,000-pound bomb inside the vehicle. The two then drove down to the Federal Reserve building in lower Manhattan. After parking the van by the building, the suspect is alleged to have gone to a nearby hotel, reported by US new outlets to be the Millennium Hilton to record a video statement intended to be released in connection with the attack. The FBI claimed that he then allegedly attempted to detonate what in reality was a dud bomb, and was arrested at the site by officials monitoring his movements. Last night, news reports indicated that the young man had attempted to detonate the bomb remotely, not at the site.
“The defendant thought he was striking a blow to the American economy. He thought he was directing confederates and fellow believers,” Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said yesterday. “At every turn, he was wrong.”
New York Police commissioner Raymond Kelly said the alleged attempt to mount a terror strike in New York was the latest in a series since the World Trade Centre towers were struck on 11 September, 2011. “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,” he said.
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