Bangladeshi Man Arrested for Trying to Blow Up Federal Reserve in NYC

The FBI yesterday arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man for attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a case that offers a fascinating look into the undercover capabilities of the New York Police Department and the FBI, whose undercover agents convinced the man that they were helping him with his terrorist plot.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was charged by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn with conspiring to blow up the bank with a remote control device that would detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb inside a van parked outside the Reserve building in lower Manhattan. But in actually the detonator was fake and the bomb was a fake, having been assembled by the undercover agents working alongside Nafis at a warehouse.

Nafis arrived in the United States in January on a student visa and immediately tried to recruit people to form a terrorist cell. But one of his recruits was an FBI informer, who introduced him to an undercover FBI agent who offered to help him carry out the plot, according to court papers. The whole case sounds like an episode of “Homeland,” the dramatic Showtime series about terrorism that President Obama said was his favorite program.

Speaking of the president, Nafis talked about his desire to “attack and kill” Obama so that he could earn the respect of Al-Qaeda, but he never got a chance to put that desire into action.

Nafis was charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and providing material support to Al Qaeda and could face up to life in prison if convicted.

When Nafis arrived at Federal District Court in Brooklyn, according to the story in the New York Times “looking boyish despite his trim beard,” he quietly answered the questions of the magistrate judge, Roanne L. Mann.

The Times story also said the Nafis case raises concerns that have been expressed in the past that the federal agents go so far in encouraging and enabling the terrorist attack that they allow the suspects to do things the wouldn’t have been able to do by themselves. In a case in 2009 that saw several men plant what they believed to be homemade bombs in front of synagogues in Riverdale, the judge in the case criticized the undercover agents for pushing to suspects into the crime. “The government made them terrorists,” the judge said.

In the Nafis case, after they parked the van containing the fake explosives, the agent and Nafis went to a nearby hotel to record Nafis making a video statement to the American people that would be broadcast after the attack.

“We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” Nafis said into the camera.

Then he picked up his fake detonator and tried to set off the bomb, calling the cellphone again and again to no avail. That was when the agents arrested him.


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