Man, 21, ‘attempts to blow up Federal Reserve in New York with 1,000lbs car bomb in terrorist attack after leaving video pledge to destroy America’
Quazi Nafis, 21, arrested this morning in elaborate FBI sting
Nafis supplied with fake 1,000-pound bomb and parked it in front of Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan this morning
Tried repeatedly to detonate ‘bomb’ with cell phone but failed
FBI and NYPD said that general public was never in any danger
By Beth Stebner
PUBLISHED: 20:47, 17 October 2012 |
It emerged this afternoon that the suspect – Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis – had left a chilling video message in which he pledged to ‘destroy America.’
According to the FBI complaint, the Jamaica, Queens resident was acting on behalf of al-Qaeda, and had come to the United States in January with jihadist intentions.
The elaborate sting represents a major coup for the FBI, and is likely to heighten tension in a city haunted by the 9/11 attacks 11 years ago.
According to a release from the FBI, Nafis believed that he was going to detonate a 1,000 in front of the Federal Reserve Building, located on Liberty Street, and had recorded a video message prior to the attack saying that he intended to deal a major blow to the American economy.
After receiving the false bomb, he drove with the FBI agent from a warehouse outside the city to the Federal Reserve building. The two parked the van in front of the bank and walked to the nearby Millennium Hotel, according to WABC.
At the hotel, he recorded a video where he said: ‘We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.’
Nafis appeared in federal court in Brooklyn earlier today to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.
Wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans, he was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea. His defense attorney had no comment outside court.
The defendant ‘reported having connections’ to al-Qaeda, prosecutors said. But there was no allegation that he received training or direction from the terrorist group.
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He told the undercover FBI agent during the drive to the Federal Reserve that his jihadist views had been shaped by al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
According to the criminal complaint, Nafis said: ‘All I had in my mind are how to destroy America… I came up to this conclusion that targeting America’s economy is most efficient way to draw the path of obliteration of America as well as the path of establishment of Khilapha.’
He continued, according to the complaint: ‘I decided to attack the Federal Reserve bank of New York which is by far the largest (by assets),most active (by volume) and most influential of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks. New York Federal Reserve Bank implements monetary policy, supervises and regulates financial institutions and helps maintain the nation’s payment systems.’
Prosecutors say Nafis traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out an attack.
In July, he contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell, the criminal complaint 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 complaint stated that Nafis learned how to make a bomb from a magazine article published in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula magazine ‘Inspire.’
The magazine contained an article entitled, ‘How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen with your Mom,’ telling readers how to construct a detonating bomb with everyday household items.
Federal prosecutors said that Nafis was closely monitored by the FBI in New York and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as the NYPD, and the public was never in danger.
The building is only blocks away from ground zero and the nearly-complete One World Trade Center construction, an area full of NYPD officers and other law enforcement officials.
In addition, the bank is close to many highly-populated tourist attractions, residents, and offices.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly praised his police force, saying in a statement, ‘Al-Qaeda operatives and those they have inspired have tried time and again to make New York City their killing field.
‘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.
He said that while it may be easy to get complacent, more than 1,000 NYPD officers are assigned to counterterrorism duties daily.
He concluded: ‘I want to commend the NYPD detectives and FBI agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the work they did in the case and U.S. Attorney Lynch and her dedicated team in prosecuting it.’
When he met this morning with the undercover FBI agent, Nafis mentioned that he had a ‘Plan B’ should his van bombing plot fail. He allegedly told the agent that he was also considering a suicide attack.
He faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in addition to attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.
According to the FBI release, Nafis believed that he was going to detonate a 1,000 pound bomb in front of the Federal Reserve Building, located on Liberty Street.
The bank, located at 33 Liberty St, 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 United States. It sets interest rates.
The Bangladeshi native reported having overseas connections to al-Qaeda, and traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out an attack, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn.
He was trying to recruit people, but one was a secret FBI source, and Nafis was closely monitored as he tried to act out his plot.
Nafis was awaiting a federal court hearing later Wednesday where he is facing a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support for al-Qaeda.
Nafis was living in Queens. It’s not clear if he had a lawyer yet.
LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF FEAR: NEW YORK’S CLOSE CALLS FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS
Since the devastating attacks of September 11, which took the lives on nearly 3,000 people and left a smouldering pit in the heart of New York City, residents of the Big Apple have been living in fear of the next major act of terror.
While the New York City Police Department and federal officials so far have been successful at foiling terror plots, it has done little to deter potential Jihadists from seeking new opportunities to wreak havoc on American soil.
Over the past 11 years, New York City has been targeted no fewer than nine times. In 2004, seven members of a terrorist cell led by Muslim extremist Dhiren Barot were arrested for plotting to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions in New York, Washington, DC, and Newark, New Jersey.
They were later accused of planning attacks in England. The plots included a ‘memorable black day of terror’ that would have included detonating a dirty bomb.
Najibullah Zazi, left, purchased explosives planning to blow up the New York subway; Faisal Shahzad, right, plotted to detonate a bomb in an SUV in Times Square.
That same year, James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj, both reportedly self-radicalized, were arrested for plotting to bomb a subway station near Madison Square Garden in New York City before the Republican National Convention.
An undercover detective from the NYPD’s Intelligence Division infiltrated the group, providing information to authorities, and later testified against Elshafay and Siraj.
Just two years later, in July of 2006, FBI agents monitoring online chat rooms discovered a plot to attack underground train tunnels connecting New York City and New Jersey. Eight suspects, including Assem Hammoud, an al-Qaeda supporter living in Lebanon, were arrested in the plot.
In 2007, four men conspired to blow up aviation fuel tanks and pipelines at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in hopes of causing ‘greater destruction than in the September 11 attacks.’ Authorities stated that the attack ‘could have caused significant financial and psychological damage, but not major loss of life.’
Besides transportation hubs and major city landmarks, places of worship also proved popular targets. In 2009, police announced the arrest of James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen for plotting to blow up New York-area synagogues and shoot down planes at a nearby Air National Guard Base.
The four had attempted to gain access to Stinger missiles and were caught in the act of placing bombs in the buildings and in a car.
One of the most publicized terror plots came just a few months later when authorities arrested Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan, for purchasing large quantities of chemicals used to make a TATP bomb, which he then planned to set off on the New York City subway. It has since been found that the plot was directed by senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.
At least three other individuals have since been arrested on allegations of conspiring to carry out the attack with Zazi. One of them, New York religious leader Ahmad Afzali, has pled guilty to charges of lying to federal agents about informing Zazi that he was being investigated by authorities.
But perhaps the closest call came in May of 2010, when Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen and Pakistan native, drove a Pathfinder packed with explosives and incendiary devices into Times Square and tried to detonate it. Luckily, the bomb fizzled and passersby quickly alerted the police, who disarmed the device.
Just two days later, Shahzad was arrested at JFK Airport while trying to flee the country aboard an Emirates Airways flight to Dubai.
As recently as last May, Ahmed Ferhani, of Algeria, and Moroccan-born Mohamed Mamdouh, a U.S. citizen, were arrested after attempting to purchase a hand grenade, guns, and ammunition to attack a Manhattan synagogue while being disguised as Orthodox Jews. The pair also allegedly planned to target the Empire State Building.
The most recent terror plot was uncovered last November when Jose Pimentel, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Dominican Republic, was arrested on charges of planning to use pipe bombs to attack targets throughout New York City, including police stations, post offices, and U.S. soldiers.
by SNEJANA FARBEROV
Source: Heritage Foundation