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Man arrested over plot to blow up Federal Reserve in New York

The man believed he was about to detonate a car bomb outside the Federal Reserve – but the FBI had been closely watching him for some time and foiled the attack.

The Federal Reserve Building in Manhattan
The Federal Reserve Building in Manhattan
Image: AP Photo/Frank Franklin I

A BANGLADESHI MAN who moved to the United States to wage jihad has been arrested in an elaborate FBI sting  after attempting to blow up a fake car bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan this morning, authorities said.

Before trying to carry out the alleged terrorism plot, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis went to a warehouse to help assemble a 1,000-pound bomb using inert material, according to a criminal complaint. He also asked an undercover agent to videotape him saying, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” the complaint said.

Agents grabbed the 21-year-old Nafis – armed with a cellphone he believed was rigged as a detonator – after he made several attempts to blow up the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve.

Authorities emphasised that the plot never posed an actual risk. However, they claimed the case demonstrated the value of using sting operations to neutralise young extremists eager to harm Americans.

“Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure,” said Mary Galligan, acting head of the FBI’s New York office. “The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences.”

Nafis appeared in federal court in Brooklyn to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida. Wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans, he was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea. His defense attorney had no comment outside court.

A Federal Reserve police officer stands in front of the Federal Reserve Building today. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The defendant “reported having connections” to al-Qaida, prosecutors said. But there was no allegation that he received training or direction from the terrorist group.

Prosecutors say Nafis traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out an attack. In July, he contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell, the criminal complaint said. Nafis was living in Queens.

In further conversations, authorities said Nafis proposed several spots for his attack, including the New York Stock Exchange — and that in a written letter taking responsibility for the Federal Reserve job he was about to carry out, he said he wanted to “destroy America.” Other communications took place through Facebook, the complaint said.

The bank in New York, located at 33 Liberty St., is one of 12 branches around the country that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, make up the Federal Reserve System that serves as the central bank of the United States. It sets interest rates.

The Federal Reserve is one of the most fortified buildings in the city, smack in the middle of a massive security effort headed by the New York Police Department where a network of thousands of private and police cameras watch for suspicious activity.

The Fed is also home to “the world’s largest accumulation of gold,” according to the bank’s website. Dozens of governments and central banks store a portion of their gold reserves in high-security vaults deep beneath the building. In recent years, it held 216 million troy ounces of gold, or more than a fifth of all global monetary gold reserves, making it a bigger bullion depository than Fort Knox.

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Associated Press

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