Repeatedly punching in the number of a cell phone he expected to decimate the New York Federal Reserve Bank, a 21-year-old man waited for the blast.
That’s what police allege happened this morning in downtown Manhattan, where they say Queens residentQuazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis tried to blow up the Liberty Street landmark.
Nafis was arrested this morning, after officers say he tried to detonate what he thought were explosives, but were instead materials rendered inoperable by the FB.
“He clearly had the intent of creating mayhem,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters tonight.
Nafis was arraigned today on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.
“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’s acting assistant director Mary Galligan.
An FBI informant and undercover agent foiled the plot, leading Nafis to believe he was working alongside fellow al Qaeda conspirators, official said today.
According to the complaint, Nafis spent months plotting slaughter, shifting between demolishing the New York Stock Exchange or assassinating an unnamed official and finally deciding on the Federal Reserve.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said Nafis worked with “single-minded determination” to blow up the bank, located just a few blocks from the World Trade Center and in the heart of Lower Manhattan office buildings.
“His extensive efforts to strike at the heart of the nation’s financial system were foiled by effective law enforcement,” Lynch said.
Officials say Nafis, a Bangladeshi national, came to the U.S. in January 2012 on a student visa specifically to carry out a terror attack.
In New York, he allegedly hoped to form a terror cell. Trying to find al Qaeda contacts here, he instead unwittingly connected with an FBI source, the agency said.
Prosecutors say Nafis told an FBI source in July that he admired “Sheikh O,” assumed to be Osama bin Laden, and enjoyed “the magazine starting with I,” according to documents, understood to be al Qaeda-affiliated English-language magazine “Inspire.”
Nafis and the FBI source, who he thought was helping his martyrdom, communicated through Facebook, according to court documents.
Mulling the site of his strike, he allegedly considered targeting a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange, but ultimately decided on the Federal Reserve Bank.
He allegedly met the undercover agent in Central Park in July, and later in Queens hotel rooms, telling him he wanted to do something “something very big. Very very very very big, that will shake the whole country.”
He proposed hiding the bomb in a car with fruits and vegetables, and said he needed “to make sure that this building is gone,” according to court documents.
Nafis was confident, prosecutors say, that he could disrupt the November presidential election. “You know what, this election might even stop,” he said, according to court documents.
Just last Friday, prosecutors say Nafis was transporting what he thought were explosives to a warehouse with who he thought was an al Qaeda member. Instead, the explosives were duds and the al Qaeda operative was the FBI agent.
The agent gave him 20 50-pound bags of explosives and a tarp to hide them, according to the FBI. Nafis then assembled the device, officials say, and later called the agent to say his “Plan B” would be a suicide bombing.
This morning, he prepared the bomb, prosecutors say, even collecting empty bags he thought would still have residual explosives to make the blast even stronger, killing more.
Officials say they watched as Nafis parked at the bank, then walked to a nearby hotel, reported to be the Millennium hotel, and filmed a statement he wanted broadcast to Americans.
During the video, the FBI describes him in sunglasses and disguising his voice, saying, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.”
Then, he allegedly attempted detonation.
He tried to detonate the bomb several times, repeatedly dialing the number that he thought would start the blast, officials say.
After agents were able to enter the van and confirm that he tried to detonate the bomb, they arrested him.
If convicted, Nafis would face life in prison.