A foreign exchange student accused of attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York was indicted on charges of providing material support to members of the terrorist group Al Quaeda and using a weapon of mass destruction. The indictment, handed down on November 15, followed the arrest of Bangladeshi national Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis during an October sting operation.
According to local authorities, the student attempted to use a cell phone to trigger the detonation of what he was led to believe was a bomb weighing 1,000 pounds. However, the inert bomb failed to go off.
Nafis arrived in the United States in January on a student visa, purporting to be a student at Southeast Missouri State University, according to prosecutors. While it’s not certain that Nafis actually has ties to Al Quaeda, authorities report that the student is claiming full responsibility for coming up with the deadly terrorist plot and that blowing up the bomb was his reason for entering the U.S.
Nafis graduated high school in Bangladesh in 2006. He then finished his certification examinations for a higher secondary school certificate two years later before enrolling in North South University, an elite private university located in Dhaka, according to authorities.
During the sting operation, the student made contact with a source at the Federal Bureau of Investigation to suggest a number of high-profile targets, such as the New York Stock Exchange and an unidentified U.S. official, according to authorities.
The student told his contact that he wanted to “destroy America” and planned to attack its financial institutions, authorities indicated. They gave Nafis 20 bags that appeared to hold 50 pounds of explosives. Nafis stored what he thought were actual bombs in a warehouse as he made plans for his terrorist attack. His backup plan, should the bombing attack fail to succeed, was to engineer a suicide attack, authorities said.
Nafis allegedly packed his van with the bags of explosives and drove with an undercover agent to the financial district in Manhattan. Authorities allege that he connected a detonator to the purported explosives and then made a video to record his terrorism statement at a local hotel, the site where he was eventually arrested.