Man Arrested In Plot To Blow Up NY Federal Reserve
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Now, news of a foiled terrorist plot in New York City. Law enforcement authorities arrested a man today who they say wanted to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan.
RAY KELLY: This individual came here for the purpose of doing a terrorist act.
BLOCK: That was New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly.
SIEGEL: The Department of Justice says no one was ever in any danger. That's because the bomb contained inert explosives provided by federal agents. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is with us from New York to explain. And first of all, Dina, what can you tell us about the man the FBI has arrested?
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: His name is Quazi Mohammad Nafis, and he's a 21-year-old Bangladeshi citizen, and he's been in the U.S. apparently since January. He came here under a student visa, and he's been living in Queens, New York.
SIEGEL: And what can you tell us about the alleged plot that he was involved in?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, all we have so far is the criminal complaint, and that says that in January, Nafis first contacted someone and asked them to join a violent jihadi cell to carry out a terrorist attack. The person he contacted actually turned out to be an informant for law enforcement, and Nafis allegedly told this informant that he'd come to the U.S. to wage violent jihad and wanted to - wanted his help attacking U.S. targets. Eventually, an undercover officer posed as an al-Qaida facilitator, and they started to discuss specific targets of attack.
And Nafis allegedly was considering attacking the New York Stock Exchange but eventually decided that the Fed would be a good target because it would essentially be striking at the heart of the U.S. economy. And in a written letter taking responsibility for the attack he was about to carry out, he allegedly said he wanted to - and these are his words - destroy America.
SIEGEL: Dina, was this a sting operation?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, you know, there've been a lot of operations that seemed like sting operations recently, but this case is a little bit different. At least from the criminal complaint, it looks like Nafis was just - wasn't just boasting about jihad and then got picked up in some chatroom by undercover agents and then got rolled into a plot. If the criminal complaint is accurate, he came to the U.S. from Bangladesh with the intent to launch an attack. And apparently, he claimed to have some sort of connection to al-Qaida, although it's still really unclear if that's true or not.
SIEGEL: And then today, Nafis actually tried to carry out the plot, according to this criminal information?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, allegedly, he started constructing what he thought was a car bomb about a week or so ago. He got batteries and detonators and what he thought was explosives. And then earlier this morning, he assembled this bomb, and on the drive to the Fed, he actually attached the detonator to the explosives. Then he parked this van near the Fed and walked to a nearby hotel. And while he was there, he apparently made a video that was meant to take credit for the attack. Also interestingly, he'd written an article for Inspire magazine, that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula online publication. So he was trying to get some sort of message out.
SIEGEL: And again, according to the information, he was at that hotel near the Fed in Lower Manhattan. What happened next?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, from the hotel, he allegedly repeatedly tried to detonate the bomb by calling a cellphone that he had installed as the kind of initiating device for the detonator, and then he was arrested a short time later. And he'll be facing charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support for al-Qaida.
SIEGEL: Was he represented by counsel today?
TEMPLE-RASTON: It's unclear who his counsel is and how that is going to progress.
SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Dina.
TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reporting on a foiled plot to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan. Authorities say that they had monitored the suspect for months, and they say that the public was, in fact, never in any danger.