Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
A Queens man was arrested Wednesday after he attempted to bomb the New York Federal Reserve bank in Lower Manhattan on behalf of al-Qaeda, authorities said.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was arrested after he allegedly tried to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-lbs. bomb outside the New York Federal Reserve bank on Liberty Street on Wednesday.
A law enforcement source told The Associated Press that Nafis considered targeting President Barack Obama and the Stock Exchange before deciding to go through with the alleged plot against the Federal Reserve.
Nafis parked a van filled with inoperable explosives provided to him by an undercover agent outside the bank on Wednesday and repeatedly tried to detonate the inert bomb before he was arrested, authorities said.
His arrest was part of a sting operation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Nafis, a Bangladeshi national with connections to al-Qaeda, arrived in the U.S. last January with the intent to recruit individuals to form a terror cell, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Nafis' ties to al-Qaeda will be "investigated as we go forward."
Nafis lived in the second-floor apartment of a brick low-rise building in Jamaica, Queens. He lived there with a relative who is a taxi driver, neighbors said. They described him as a quiet and good looking guy who never made noise or appeared to be suspicious.
Prior to his arrest, Nafis recorded a video he planned to release in connection with the attack in which he states, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” according to the complaint.
And in a statement intended to claim responsibility for the alleged plot, Nafis said he wanted to "destroy America," according to the complaint, and thought targeting the economy was the most efficient way.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, speaking at a ribbon cutting on Thursday, said the alleged plot was the 15th known in the city since the September 11 terror attacks.
"The great danger is we're going to forget the great lesson that should have been taught to us back on 9-11-01," he said. "The world is a dangerous place and we're going to have keep fighting to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms that some people around the world find so threatening."
Bob Hennelly, Colby Hamilton and Stephen Nessen contributed reporting.