By Rich Bockmann
Federal investigators were probing a Jamaica man’s motives after he was arrested Wednesday in an alleged bomb plot that officials believe was intended to kill and injure scores of New Yorkers.
Officials said they arrested the 21-year old Bangladeshi citizen, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who had been living in Jamaica since January, after he allegedly tried to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan Wednesday morning with phony explosives he purchased in an FBI sting operation.
Nafis faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda, according to Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, which covers both Queens and Brooklyn.
Authorities said Nafis inadvertently tried to recruit an FBI source when he moved to the country earlier this year with the intent of allegedly forming a terrorist cell to carry out an attack.
In a written statement intended to claim responsibility for the terrorist bombing of the Federal Reserve Bank on behalf of al-Qaeda, Nafis wrote that he wanted to “destroy America” and that he believed the most efficient way to accomplish this goal was to target the U.S. economy, according to a release by the U.S. attorney’s office.
In this statement, Nafis also included quotations from “our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden” to justify the fact that he expected the attack would involve the killing of women and children.
“We will not stop until we attain victory or martydom,” Nafis said in a video statement he recorded just before attempting to detonate the false explosives.
Nafis allegedly considered several targets for his attack, including the New York Stock Exchange before deciding on the nearby Federal Reserve Bank, according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office.
The complaint said an undercover FBI agent supplied Nafis with 20 50-pound bags of bogus explosives and drove with him in a van to Lower Manhattan.
The two went to a nearby hotel, and after Nafis allegedly tried to detonate the device, he was immediately arrested, according to the authorities.
The federal prosecutor said the FBI made sure the NYPD was in the loop the whole time so that police would not attempt to stop Nafis as he tried to carry out his scheme.
“The defendant thought he was striking a blow to the American economy,” Lynch said. “He thought he was directing confederates and fellow believers. At every turn, he was wrong, and his extensive efforts to strike at the heart of the nation’s financial system were foiled by effective law enforcement.”
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said while the public goes about its daily lives, law enforcement has never taken a break or relaxed its guard in the years since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Al Qaeda operatives and those they have inspired have tried time and again to make New York City their killing field,” Kelly said. “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. After 11 years without a successful attack, it’s understandable if the public becomes complacent. But that’s a luxury law enforcement can’t afford.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.