The FBI has arrested 21-year-old Jamaica resident Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis for his alleged role in a foiled plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Manhattan.
Nafis, who is being charged with possessing a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Al-Qaeda, was arrested on Wednesday in the culmination of an investigation by the FBI. He allegedly arrived in the U.S. from Bangladesh in January 2012 with the intent of forming an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell in New York. However, one of the men he tried to recruit was an FBI informant. Thus, NYPD, FBI and New York Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators were able to closely monitor Nafis’s movements in the U.S.
According to the FBI’s report, Nafis considered bombing the New York Stock Exchange and assassinating high-ranking government officials before settling on the Federal Reserve. The report also cites a letter that Nafis allegedly wrote to claim responsibility for the attack for Al-Qaeda, saying, “Nafis wrote that he wanted to ‘destroy America’ and that he believed the most efficient way to accomplish this goal was to target America’s economy.”
An FBI agent posing as an Al-Qaeda facilitator supplied Nafis with 20 50-pound bags of nonfunctional explosives. After assembling the inert bomb, Nafis drove it in a van to the Federal Reserve, parked it, and walked to a nearby hotel where he was summarily arrested.
“As alleged in the complaint, the defendant came to this country intent on conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and worked with single-minded determination to carry out his plan,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.
Ghulan Rabbi, a representative of the Ahmadiyya Muslim organization and a Queens Bengali Muslim, told the Chronicle, “Our community categorically dismisses any violence in the name of religion. We can’t let a few twisted people hijack our religion.”
Following the announcement of the arrest, a Facebook page called "Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis-A Sick Terrorist" was created. Whoever made the page notes that Nafis is in the United States on a student visa and states:
"The whole purpose of this page is to denounce any such revengeful activities as well as to reaffirm the fact that this erroneous act will never mirror the candid stories of each Bangladeshi student studying not in US but anywhere in the world.Therefore, we hope no liberal, progressive and tolerant Bangladeshi learners residing abroad will be distrusted and misunderstood based upon this unexpected event. We hereby once again avow our detachment from any conduct unbecoming."
Posters to the page accuse Nafis of destroying the dreams of Bengali students looking to study abroad, and one warns the defendant against dropping the soap, in an apparent reference to prison life.
Peter C. Mastrosimone contributed to this story.