NY bomb plot: Family shocked at arrest

2012-10-18 14:01

Dhaka — The Bangladeshi man accused of trying to bomb the Federal Reserve building in New York City was a banker's son from a middle class neighbourhood whose family says it was stunned by his arrest.

The FBI arrested Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis after he tried to detonate a fake 454kg car bomb, according to a criminal complaint.

His family said on Thursday that Nafis was a gentle man incapable of such actions.

"My son can't do it," said his father, Quazi Ahsanullah.

He called on the Bangladesh government to intervene to get his son back to his home country.

US authorities say Nafis considered targeting a high-ranking government official and the New York Stock Exchange before he raised the bar further by picking one of New York City's most fortified sites: The Federal Reserve.

Aspirations of martyrdom

The 21-year-old — armed with a cellphone he believed was rigged as a detonator — was grabbed by authorities on Wednesday after he made several attempts to blow up a fake 454kg bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve in lower Manhattan, according to a criminal complaint.

In a September meeting with an undercover agent posing as a fellow jihadist, Nafis explained he chose the Federal Reserve "for operational reasons", according to a criminal complaint.

Nafis also indicated he knew that choice would "cause a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children", the complaint said.

The plot was phony, but authorities alleged that Nafis' admiration of Osama bin Laden and aspirations for martyrdom were not.

The bank in New York, located at 33 Liberty Street, is one of 12 branches around the United States that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, make up the Federal Reserve System that serves as the central bank of the United States. It sets interest rates.

Dozens of governments and central banks store a portion of their gold reserves in high-security vaults deep beneath the building. In recent years, it held 216 million troy ounces of gold, or more than a fifth of all global monetary gold reserves.

No actual risk

As a result, the Federal Reserve is one of the most fortified buildings in the city, smack in the middle of a massive security effort headed by the New York Police Department, where a network of thousands of private and police cameras watch for suspicious activity.

Authorities emphasised that the plot never posed an actual risk. There was no allegation that Nafis actually received training or direction from a real terrorist group.

However, they claimed the case demonstrated the value of using sting operations to neutralise young extremists eager to harm Americans.

"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure," said Mary Galligan, acting head of the FBI's New York office. "The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences."

Prosecutors say Nafis travelled to the US on a student visa in January to carry out an attack. In July, he contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell and that he admired "Sheikh 'O'" — a reference to bin Laden, the criminal complaint said.

The defendant later sought assurances from an undercover agent posing as an al-Qaeda contact that the terrorist group would support the operation.

Influenced by al-Awlaki

"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 the Queens section of the city, 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.

Before trying to carry out the alleged terrorism plot, Nafis went to a warehouse to help assemble the bomb using inert material, according to a criminal complaint. He also told the undercover agent he was influenced by radical US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

He also asked an undercover agent to videotape him saying, "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," the complaint said.

The federal case was the latest where a terrorism plot against the city turned out to be a sting operation.

Four men were convicted in 2009 in a plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down military planes with missiles — a case that began after an FBI informant was assigned to infiltrate a mosque in Newburgh, about 113km north of New York City. The federal judge hearing the case said she was not proud of the government's role in nurturing the plot.

In 2004, a Pakistani immigrant was arrested and convicted for a scheme to blow up the subway station at Herald Square in midtown Manhattan. His lawyers argued that their client had been set up by a police informant who showed him pictures of Iraq abuse to get him involved in an attack against civilians.

  • christopher.shining - 2012-10-18 14:20

    Yeah right...lock him up for good.

      dragonfire47 - 2012-10-18 14:25

      The father wants the bangladesh government to intervene against the might and sovreignty of the US government, dream on chump, strap his terrorist ass to a gurney and send it to hell

      napolita.kio - 2012-10-18 16:01

      @dragonfire47 - Hahahaaaa.....You're funny, aren't ya fella? Like you never write comments on here saying the SA government is useless for not helping some SA drug mule in Brazil or wherever!!

      dragonfire47 - 2012-10-18 16:40

      @napolita, ha ha you know what I think of drug mules, F EM , hang the whole stinking lot, I wouldn't ask this crap government to help any drug mule or terrorist and that includes you chump

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-10-18 14:29

    As usual ,difficult to believe these reports..we all know, alls fair in war

      almeleh - 2012-10-18 14:40

      Strange, the Taliban are not scared of tanks and bullets but they are terrified of a 14year old girl with a book. So all's fair in love and war?

      selwyn.lloyd.37 - 2012-10-18 15:47

      C'mon Rashida, SA muslims i believe are the peaceful ones, and if you are then stand against the ones who sow destruction around the world by blowing up buildings and innocent lives. Just because we dont follow Islam we are now infidels??? and they keep saying "death to the infidels"! Why can we not all live in peace side by side and leave religion aside. Besides why would the USA not protect their interests? they did not just make this up and arresy some innocent muslim. They have on video what he wants to achieve. Please see the light and use your common sense and God given intellect, it is not rocket science! PEACE I SAY!

      napolita.kio - 2012-10-18 16:03

      @Rashida - Which war? @almeleh - "..Taliban are...terrified of a 14year old girl with a book." - Prove!

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-10-18 17:43

    His family must be aware of his actions. They probably feel and would do the same. Press the button that is.

  • john.breakfacet - 2012-10-18 20:28

    Comment on CNN FBI's SOP: 1) Identify subject who expresses criticism of the U.S. Young males between 18 and 25 are preferred. 2) Make contact with subject & befriend subject, e.g. by posing as disillusioned Afghanistan or Iraq veteran. 3) Expose subject to further criticism of the U.S., followed by radical Islamist propaganda and radicalize subject. 4) Gradually warm subject up to plan of terrorist attack. Provide justification why innocent civilians are not innocent, but participants in global domination. 5) Provide weapons and other means for the attack. 6) Participate in initial stages of the attack, make sure the subject does not feel alone, but is part of a larger, meaningful process. 7) Arrest and prosecute subject. 8) Ask for promotion and bonus; invest in retirement home.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-10-18 20:37

      A clear case of manufacturing terrorists, prying on the impressionability of disillusioned young Muslim men, most from poor families. The FBI is facing budget cuts of over +-$150 million dollars and has to justify why it needs these funds. And what does it do, it manufactures terrorists.

  • pages:
  • 1