The FBI says it has thwarted an alleged al Qaeda terror plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank three blocks from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.
A 21-year-old Bangladeshi man living in Queens was arrested Wednesday morning after he allegedly tried to detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound truck bomb that the suspect parked on Liberty Street in the financial district.
“We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” the suspect, identified as Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, said in a video he recorded at a nearby hotel shortly before he tried to blow up The Fed, according to the FBI.
Authorities said Nafis came to America in January, when he began trying to recruit radicals to form a terrorist cell. He instead met an undercover FBI agent who supplied him with 20 50-pound bags of inoperable explosives.
“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 FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Mary Galligan, who emphasized that the public was never at risk.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, whose investigators worked with the FBI on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, said this was the 15th foiled terror plot in the city since 9/11. Nafis allegedly claimed allegiance to Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
After obtaining the fake explosives, Nafis built the device inside a van in a warehouse in the outer boroughs before driving it into Manhattan while unwittingly under police surveillance, authorities said. His “plan B” was to conduct a suicide bombing if he realized the police were on to him, the FBI said.
Investigators said the goal was to “destroy America” by targeting America’s economic hub, regardless of how many women or children were killed in the attack. He also considered attacking a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange, authorities 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.
“I just want something big,” he told the agent this summer, according to court documents. “Something very big. Very, very, very, very big, that will shake the whole country. . . that will make us one step closer to run the whole world.”
Nafis is due in Brooklyn federal court on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
-With Rashed Mian and Associated Press