October 18, 2012 - 11:20 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Federal authorities running a sting operation arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man, who came to the U.S. on a student visa and was allegedly planning to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb, officials said, according to CNN.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was detained Wednesday, Oct 17 after an alleged attempt to detonate the device, which was inert and part of an elaborate investigation by federal authorities and NYPD detectives.
Prosecutors say Nafis was apparently motivated by al Qaeda and traveled to the United States in January under the pretext of attending college in Missouri in order carry out "a terrorist attack on U.S. soil" and to recruit members to form a terrorist cell.
It's not clear whether Nafis maintained al Qaeda ties, but authorities say he apparently claimed that the plot was his own, and that it was his sole motivation for the U.S. trip.
One of the people Nafis apparently contacted was an FBI source to whom he proposed multiple targets, including a high-ranking U.S. official as well as the New York Stock Exchange, authorities said.
At one point, the suspect contemplated President Barack Obama as a target, but that idea never progressed, a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation said.
Prosecutors say Nafis indicated that he wanted to "destroy America" by going after the nation's financial institutions and ultimately settled on the landmark bank.
The undercover agent, authorities say, also provided 20 bags of 50 pounds each of purported explosives to Nafis, who then stored the material in a warehouse in preparation for the strike.
They say Nafis further divulged a "Plan B" that involved carrying out a suicide attack should police thwart his initial effort.
Packing his van with what he apparently believed were explosives, Nafis then allegedly traveled with the undercover agent to Manhattan's financial district, attached a detonator to the material and recorded a video statement in a nearby hotel.
"We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," he allegedly said, covering his face, donning sunglasses and disguising his voice.
While en route to his target, authorities say, Nafis detailed how his jihadist views were -- at least in part -- formed by watching video sermons by American-born al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed last year by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.
With his van parked next to the Federal Reserve, Nafis allegedly attempted to detonate the inert device by using his cell phone. The effort failed, and he was arrested soon after, authorities said.
Much of the sting operation was also captured on video, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Nafis faces charges of "attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda."