Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis
NEW YORK (WUSA) -- A 21-year-old man was arrested Wednesday morning in downtown Manhattan after allegedly trying to detonate, what he thought, was a massive bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank, federal officials said.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was arrested by the FBI as a result of an undercover operation.
Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and counter-terrorism expert says the sting operation was textbook and efficient undercover work by FBI agents.
However, he believes the timing of the arrest may be politically motivated.
Johnson said, "The White House welcomes a chance to divert attention from it's bungling in Benghazi."
He added that this is an opportunity for the Obama administration to flex its muscle and show that they are capable countering terroristic threats.
Johnson continued, "The Department of Justice has a significant control of the timing on when they would launch this kind of arrest."
Nafis thought he was going to detonate a 1,000 pound bomb at the Federal Reserve on Liberty Street in lower Manhattan's financial district, but the bomb he attempted to use was a fake, planted by law enforcement, FBI officials said.
Nafis, a Bangladeshi man, reportedly traveled to the United States in January 2012 with his purpose being to conduct a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Nafis reportedly had overseas connections to al-Qaeda, sought out al-Qaeda contacts within the U.S., and also tried to recruit people to create a terrorist cell inside the United States, Federal officials said.
One of the people Nafis tried to recruit was an FBI source. During investigation, FBI agents, the NYPD, and the FBI New York Field Office's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), monitored Nafis as he formulated his plan.
Nafis reportedly proposed several targets for his attack, including the New York Stock Exchange as well as a high-ranking U.S. official. Nafis settled on the New York Federal Reserve Bank as his target, officials said.
In a statement written by Nafis in which he intended to claim responsibility for the bombing that didn't end up happening, Nafis wrote that he wanted to "destroy America" and that he though the most efficient way to do that was to target the American economy. In the statement, Nafis referred to "our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden" to justify that the expected attack would kill women and children.
Nafis encountered an FBI undercover agent who was posing as an al-Qaeda facilitator during the investigation. Nafi requested that the agent supply 20 50-pound bags of explosives. The agent supplied Nafis with purported explosives.
Nafis then allegedly stored the materials and assembled the explosive device for the attack.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Nafis met with the undercover agent and drove to a warehouse located in the Eastern District of New York. During the drive, Nafis told to the undercover agent that he had a "Plan B". His "Plan B" was to conduct a suicide bombing operation, if the first plan was thwarted, officials said.
When they got to the warehouse, Nafis put together what he thought was a 1,000 pound bomb in the van they had drove in. Nafis and the agent then drove to the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Nafis and the agent parked the van next to the Federal Reserve Bank, left the van and walked to a hotel nearby, officials said.
Once in the hotel, Nafis recorded a video statement intended for the American public which he wanted to release with the attack.
In the video statement, Nafis stated: "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom."
Nafis then tried multiple times to unsuccessfully detonate the bomb, which had been assembled using the inert explosives provided by the undercover agent.
JTTF agents then arrested Nafis immediately after he attempted to detonate the bomb.
The defendant faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.