The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man in New York on Wednesday after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was a thousand-pound bomb at the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan.
The man, Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, was arrested after he bought and attempted to use explosives that were "rendered inoperable" by agents working undercover for the bureau's New York Field Office's Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI said, adding that the public was never in danger.
Nafis, who had been living in Queens, faces charges of "attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda," the FBI said. He was scheduled to make an initial court appearance in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the criminal complaint filed on Wednesday in the Eastern District of New York, Nafis traveled to the United States in January 2012 "for the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil."
Working alone, Nafis attempted to recruit individuals to form a terrorist cell inside the United States, according to the complaint. He "actively sought out al Qaeda contacts within the United States to assist him in carrying out an attack." One of those inviduals was an FBI source, the bureau said, and an investigation was launched by both the FBI and NYPD.
The complaint alleges that Nafis initially considered several targets for his attack, including "a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange" before settling on the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan's financial district.
The FBI said it confiscated a note Nafis wrote saying he wanted to "destroy America" and referred to "our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden."
Early Wednesday, Nafis and an undercover agent "assembled what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb" inside a van, and then drove to the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
More from the complaint:
Nafis and the undercover agent parked the van next to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, exited the van, and walked to a nearby hotel. There, Nafis recorded a video statement to the American public that he intended to release in connection with the attack. During this video statement, Nafis stated, "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom." Nafis then repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to detonate the bomb, which had been assembled using the inert explosives provided by the undercover agent. JTTF agents arrested Nafis immediately after he attempted to detonate the bomb. Throughout the morning, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials, working with the JTTF, closely monitored the movements of Nafis as he attempted to implement the attack, including assuring that the van was not stopped by NYPD counterterrorism units active in lower Manhattan.
Here's a separate statement from New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly:
Al Qaeda operatives and those they have inspired have tried time and again to make New York City their killing field. We are up to 15 plots and counting since 9/11, with the Federal Reserve now added to a list of iconic targets that previously included the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange and Citicorp Center. After 11 years without a successful attack, it's understandable if the public becomes complacent. But that's a luxury law enforcement can't afford. Vigilance is our watchword now and into the foreseeable future. That's why we have over 1,000 NYPD officers assigned to counterterrorism duties every day and why we built the domain awareness system. I want to commend the NYPD detectives and FBI agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the work they did in the case.
If convicted, Nafis faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.