By Rich Bockmann
The 21-year-old Bangladeshi man who was living in Jamaica when he was arrested in an alleged plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank has been formally charged in Brooklyn federal court.
A grand jury indicted Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis on one count each of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to the foreign terrorist organization al-Qaeda, according to court documents unsealed last week.
Nafis was arrested Oct. 17 after he parked a van full of what he thought to be explosives outside the Federal Building on Liberty Street and then went to a nearby hotel where he repeatedly tried to detonate the phony bomb, according to the FBI.
The young man came to the country in January on a student visa and attended classes at Southeast Missouri State University through July, when he was placed on academic suspension and had his records transferred to an institution in Brooklyn.
At some point in July Nafis was living in New York City when he contacted an FBI source whom he tried to recruit in a plot to wage “jihad” against the Untied States, according to authorities.
In July Nafis, the FBI source and a third unnamed person began communicating through Facebook about the legality of carrying out jihad under Islamic law, court documents show.
The FBI said Nafis’ co-conspirator had been arrested by federal authorities on non-terrorism-related felony charges.
The New York Times identified the man as Howard Willie Carter II, who was arrested in San Diego on child pornography charges the day after Nafis was taken into custody.
It was not clear if Nafis ever had legitimate contact with al-Qaeda, but in mid-July he told the FBI source he intended to return to Bangladesh to train with the terrorist group.
That was when the source put Nafis in contact with an FBI agent who was posing as an al-Qaeda operative.
Nafis told the agent he wanted “to do something that brothers coming after us can be inspired by us,” according to the court documents.
“What I really mean, is that I don’t want something that’s like, small. I just want something big. Something very big. Very very very very big, that will shake the whole country, that will make America, not one step ahead, change of policy, and make one step ahead, for the Muslims … that will make us one step closer to run the whole world,” he is quoted as saying in a court document.
Nafis met with the agent several times at a hotel in Queens, where he requested an explosive device that could be used on possible targets such as the New York Stock Exchange and a high-ranking U.S. government official, court documents revealed.
The FBI agent provided Nafis with 2,000 pounds of fake explosives, which the NYPD let him drive into downtown Manhattan without interference, according to authorities.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.