A Bangladeshi man pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan. Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis came to America in January 2012 with the sole purpose of carrying out violent jihad.
Nafis brought digitized files of bomb-making instructions and speeches by Awlaki when he came to America. Once here, Nafis sought people to form a terrorist cell to work with him in plotting jihadi attacks. One person he connected with turned out to be an FBI undercover agent. Nafis's jihadist views were shaped by videotaped sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida leader in Yemen who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in September 2011. Nafis also admired Osama bin Laden whom he referred to as "Sheikh O" in conversations with the FBI agent.
Nafis asked the agent to help him obtain explosives, bought parts to make a detonator on his own and scouted targets in Manhattan's financial district.
According to a criminal complaint, Nafis proposed several targets for prospective attack including a "high-ranking official" and the New York Stock Exchange. He wrote a formal statement expressing his desire to work on behalf of al-Qaida to "destroy America" that he hoped to publish in al-Qaida's Inspire magazine. Nafis justified attacking New York's Federal Reserve Bank saying "that targeting America's economy is most efficient way to draw the path of obliteration of America as well as the path of establishment of Khalipha [Islamic state]." Nafis echoed similar sentiments in a separate video message: "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom."
Nafis was arrested in October while attempting to set off a car packed with 1,000 pounds of explosives outside the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan using a cell phone detonator. He was charged with two counts of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He pleaded guilty to one count Thursday and could face life in prison.Nafis "came to this country not to further his studies, but to advance the goals of jihad," U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch in a Justice Department press release. "Once here, he devoted his energies to refining his plan to disrupt the U.S. economy and kill Americans, and attempting to recruit others to join him … With diligence and determination, Nafis attempted to carry out his plan in the name of al-Qaeda. We are committed to protecting the safety of all Americans, including the hundreds of thousands who work in New York's financial district. We will not wait for our enemies to attack us before using the tools at our disposal to discourage, disrupt, and ultimately, detain them with lengthy terms of incarceration."