The New York Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis on October 17, 2012, as he attempted to detonate what he believed to be a 1000-pound truck bomb outside the New York Federal Reserve Building.
Nafis, a 21-year old Bangladeshi who entered the United States in January on a student visa to study cyber security at Southeast Missouri State University, was arrested after a four month investigation.
According to court documents, Nafis told an FBI informant and undercover agent that he came to the United States with the express purpose of carrying out a terrorist attack. He claimed to have terrorist contacts in Bangladesh and was seeking to recruit a cell here. One of his recruits turned out to be the FBI informant; another, identified in the documents as “Yaqueen,” has been charged with other, non-terrorism related felonies.
In recorded conversations with the undercover agent, Nafis allegedly said, “I just want [to do] something big. Something very big. Very very very very big, that will shake the whole country, that will make America, not one step ahead, change policy, and make one step ahead for the Muslims.” He also said that he wanted the “brothers coming after us” to be “inspired by us.”
In preparation for the attack, Nafis allegedly wrote an article describing his desire to “destroy America,” which he planned to have submitted for publication in Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language terrorist magazine. In the article he claimed that “targeting America’s economy is the most efficient way” to obliterate America, echoing terrorist propaganda that has repeatedly called for attacks on the Federal Reserve and leading figures in the American economy.
Prior to his arrest, he also recorded a video message in which he said that “we will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.”
Nafis allegedly also considered targeting a military installation in Maryland and had plans to assassinate a “high official” in the American government, whom unidentified government sources have identified to the media as President Obama.
He has been charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Al Qaeda. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Nafis is most recent example of a foreign national arrested for attempted to carry out an act of terror on U.S. soil. Last February Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan national who entered the country in 1999 on a tourist visa, was charged with attempting to conduct a suicide bombing at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. El Khalifi has since been sentenced to 30 years in prison.