How the FBI got its man: the New York terror plot which was a trap

 

New York

Literally and figuratively, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York sits at the heart of the US financial system; the clearing house for billions of dollars worth of deals, the 22 storey limestone and sandstone structure rises up from a narrow street in the city's financial district, standing only a handful of blocks away from the site of the World Trade Centre towers that were attacked on 11 September, 2001. Five years ago, it was here, deep inside this citadel of finance, that the reigning high-priests of American capitalism gathered to seal the fate of the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment bank.

But a very different kind of visitor is alleged to have pulled up on Wednesday morning and parked a van next to the building on Liberty Street.

According to US authorities, 21 year old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, accompanied by an undercover FBI agent posing as an accomplice, had come prepared to strike a blow to America - or so he thought.

In the back, Naifs had assembled a 1,000-pound bomb, which, the FBI claims, he planned to detonate at the doorstep of the Bank on behalf of al-Qaeda. The Feds say they got there first and planted a dud.

The way the Americans tell it, the Bangladeshi national had arrived in the US in January, on the face of it an innocuous international student pursuing a course in cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri University. But, according to the official narrative, his mind was already preoccupied with an altogether more sinister plot.

The suspected would-be terrorist soon attempted to put together what the FBI says was meant to be a terror cell.

Local reports suggest that he did this by attempting to recruit people online. This is when the ploy is said to have fallen apart. Unwittingly, Nafis is said to have come into contact with an FBI source in July. Among other things, he is said to told this source that he admired the magazine "starting with 'I'", which was understood by the source to mean the al-Qaeda linked publication Inspire. Next he was put in touch with an undercover agent posing as an "al-Qaeda facilitator", who, after an alleged request from the accused, supplied him with the dud explosives.

"The defendant came to this country intent on conducting a terrorist attack... and worked with single-minded determination to carry out his plan," Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said as the plot came to light.

To begin with, however, it is alleged that the target remained uncertain. The 21 year old is said to have considered a number of options, including the New York Stock Exchange and a high-ranking US official, whom the authorities did not identify.

Later reports suggest that he may have been thinking of President Obama. Eventually, he settled on the Federal Reserve Building. "I don't want something that's like, small. I just want something big. Something very big ... that will shake the whole country," he is alleged to have told the undercover agent.

Considering his plans to be on track, Nafis is alleged to have met the undercover agent on Wednesday morning and with him, reported to have driven up to a Long Island warehouse. Along the way, the accused is alleged to have confessed to a plan B -  a suicide bombing - if the van-bomb failed.

Up at the warehouse, he assembled what he thought was a working bomb fitted with a remote detonating device, and, with his accomplice in tow, drove down to Liberty Street. From the official FBI statement and the court complaint, it is unclear who was behind the steering wheel. Today, Nafis's father, Quasi Mohammed Ahsanullah, who was identified as a banker in some accounts, denied the allegations. "This is nothing but a conspiracy. There is still a racist conspiracy there," he told reporters in Dhaka. "He could not even drive a car. How was he caught with van?"

But according to the official account, after parking the car by the building, the suspect is alleged to have gone to a room in what was reported to be the Millennium Hilton hotel nearby. There, with his face covered and eyes shielded with sunglasses, he is said to have recorded a video proclaiming responsibility for bomb, before attempting to remotely detonate the explosive via a mobile phone. This is when US officials claim to have pounced, foiling the 15th plot to attack New York since 9/11 and averting what, had it succeed, would have been a crushing blow to the city and the country at large.

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?