A Bangladeshi man has been charged over a failed attempt to blow up the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York City.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 21-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis on Wednesday for attempting to blow up a fake car bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan.
He has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
Before trying to carry out the alleged terrorism plot, Nafis went to a warehouse to help assemble a 1,000-pound bomb using inert material, according to a criminal complaint.
He also asked an undercover agent to videotape him saying, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” the complaint said.
Agents grabbed Nafis, armed with a cellphone he believed was rigged as a detonator, after he made several attempts to blow up the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve, the complaint said.
Authorities emphasised that the plot never posed an actual risk.
‘Ready to kill himself”
At the federal court in Brooklyn, Nafis was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea.
His defence attorney Heidi Cesare had no comment outside court.
The defendant had sought assurances from an undercover agent posing as an al-Qaeda contact that the terrorist group would support the operation.
“The thing that I want to ask you about is that, the thing I’m doing, it’s under al-Qaeda?” he was recorded saying during a meeting in bugged hotel room in Queens, according to the complaint.
In a September meeting in the same hotel room, Nafis “confirmed he was ready to kill himself during the course of the attack, but indicated he wanted to return to Bangladesh to see his family one last time to set his affairs in order,” the complaint said.
But there was no allegation that Nafis actually received training or direction from the terrorist group.
‘Jihad in US’
Ray Kelly, New York police commissioner, said Nafis travelled to the US on a student visa in January to carry out an attack.
“He comes here with the avowed purpose of committing some sort of jihad here in the United States,” Kelly told reporters.
In July, Nafis contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell, the criminal complaint said.
Kelly said Nafis was inspired by al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a US operation in Yemen last year.
It was Awlaki’s magazine “Inspire” that motivated Nafis, according to Kelly.
“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,” Kelly 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 bank in New York, located in Manhattan, 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 US.