NEW YORK (AP) – Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested a man they said was plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan, just blocks from the World Trade Center site.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was arrested in a sting operation Wednesday morning after he parked a van filled with what he believed were explosives outside the building and tried to detonate it in a suicide mission, authorities said.
Earlier in the day, he went to a warehouse and assembled what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb using inert explosives provided by federal agents. He also recorded a videotaped statement in which he said, "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," federal prosecutors said.
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."
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 Bangladeshi native reported having overseas connections to al-Qaida, and traveled to the U.S. in January to carry out an attack, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn. He was trying to recruit people, but one was a secret FBI source, and Nafis was closely monitored as he tried to act out his plot.
Federal authorities said the public was not in danger during any point in the investigation.
Nafis was awaiting a federal court hearing later Wednesday where he is facing a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support for al-Qaida.
Nafis was living in Queens. It's not clear if he had a lawyer yet.
Associated Press Writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.