Suspected terrorist tried attacking New York Fed, FBI says - FOX 35 News Orlando

AP: Suspect in foiled Fed Bank plot considered Obama as target

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The NYPD outside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Wednesday. (Photo by Dan Bowens | Fox 5 News) The NYPD outside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Wednesday. (Photo by Dan Bowens | Fox 5 News)
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Federal agents and detectives arrested a man who allegedly tried to blow up a van outside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Wednesday morning, authorities said.

The man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, a Bangladeshi national who lives in Queens, parked a van full of what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside the Fed building on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan -- just blocks from the World Trade Center site -- Wednesday morning and set off a cell phone detonator, according to the Department of Justice.

But the van did not blow up because the so-called explosives were not real and were provided by an undercover FBI agent, the DOJ said. 

A law enforcement official says President Barack Obama was also a potential target for Nafis, reported the Associated Press on Thursday.

The official stressed that the suspect never got beyond the discussion stage.

The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and talked to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Authorities have said the Bangladeshi man snared in an FBI terror sting also considered targeting the New York Stock Exchange before picking one of New York City's most fortified sites.

"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure," Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan said in a statement. "The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. It is important to emphasize that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant's 'accomplices' were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism."

The suspect and the agent had been planning the attack for months, the DOJ said. Agents with the Joint Terrorism task Force closely monitored Nafis and the plot. 

Nafis came to the United States in January 2012 to recruit people to form a terrorist cell and to carry out an attack on U.S. soil, the DOJ said. He claimed to have ties to al-Qaeda and sought out al-Qadea contacts in America to help him plan the attack, authorities said.

He wrote a statement that he intended to release after the attack to claim responsibility, authorities said. In the statement, Nafis wrote that he wanted to "destroy America" by targeting its economy, the DOJ said. He also quoted from Osama bin Laden in justifying what he assumed with be the killing of women and children, federal officials said.

Authorities charged Nafis with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda Authorities said the public was never in any danger. 

Nafis came to the U.S. on a student visa to study at a college in Missouri, said NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly. He studied at Southeast Missouri State University from January to May, the AP reported.

"To have someone come into the country in January, plot this thing going forward and actually make that chilling step of pressing that cell phone battery to do the detonation, that's the thing that Americans need to focus on. It's still there," former NYS Homeland Security Advisor Michael Balboni told Good Day New York on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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