Federal authorities thwarted a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve building in lower Manhattan this morning, in a would-be attack that was “on behalf of Al-Qaeda,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced this afternoon.
(Read the federal criminal complaint below).
According to the feds, the failed bomber — identified as 21-year-old Ahsan Nafis — attempted to detonate a 1,000-pound bomb outside of the Reserve’s headquarters on Liberty Street in lower Manhattan with a cell phone detonator. The bomb, however, never went off — it was provided to him by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and was completely inoperable, officials say.
The feds say Nafis came to the U.S. from Bangladesh in January with the intention of “conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.”
Once in the U.S., Nafis attempted to recruit several people to help him carry out a terrorist attack. One of those recruits, however, was an FBI source, who told authorities about Nafis’ plan to “destroy America.”
The feds say Nafis proposed several targets for the attack, including a “high-ranking government official.” He settled on the Federal Reserve bank in lower Manhattan.
Nafis — in a written statement intended on claiming responsibility for the attack after the bomb went off — wrote that he wanted to target the U.S. economy because it is the most
efficient way to “destroy America.”
In the note, he quoted “our beloved sheik Osama bin Laden,” in justifying the killing of children and women.
Nafis ultimately came in contact with an undercover FBI agent posing as an Al Qaeda facilitator, who provided him — at his request — with 20 50-pound bags of what he thought were explosives.
This morning, Nafis and the undercover FBI agent drove in a van to a warehouse. During
the ride, Nafis told the agent he’d concocted a “plan B” suicide bombing plot, just in case authorities caught wind of his plan.
Once at the warehouse, Nafis loaded what he thought was the 1,000-pound bomb
into the van and drove to the Federal Reserve building.
Nafis and the agent parked the van next to the building and then went to a nearby hotel, where Nafis recorded a video message directed at the American people. In the video, he stated that “we will not stop until we achieve victory or martyrdom.”
Then, Nafis repeatedly tried to detonate the bomb. But it didn’t go “boom” — and the feds sprung their trap.
Nafis now faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and attempting to provide material to Al-Qaeda.Nafis.complaint.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2012