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FBI: Federal Reserve Bank Suspect Inspired By U.S.-Born Cleric Al-Awlaki

Nafis Plot Bothers Anti-Terror Officials Because It Opens Up New Possibilities
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis (inset) is accused of plotting to bomb to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. (credit: Personal Photo | Getty Images)

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis (inset) is accused of plotting to bomb to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. (credit: Personal Photo | Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Quasi Muhammad Nafis was intent on committing jihad and wanted to set up his own terror cell, and now investigators want to question at least five friends and associates, sources told CBS 2 on Thursday.

There were no signs of extra security outside the Federal Reserve Bank, one day after law enforcement foiled Nafis’ attempt to blow it up.

“The investigation is ongoing. I’ll leave it at that,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Sources told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer officials want to question several people, including a co-conspirator Nafis talked to about the plot. Howard Willie Carter was arrested Wednesday in San Diego on unrelated child porn charges.

“What they are looking for, who did he tell, what did he tell them and when did they know it,” CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller said, referring to the information officials are looking for.

Conversations recorded by the FBI show Nafis, a 21-year-old Bangladeshi student, was inspired by the late American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who also inspired the underwear bomber and the Fort Hood shooter. Even after al-Awlaki was killed by a drone, his magazine, “Inspire,” gave Nafis guidance for his plot.

“We see Awlaki’s writing, Awlaki’s speeches being very powerful in the radicalization process,” Commissioner Kelly said.

Nafis even wrote an article about his plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank that he hoped would be published in Inspire.

“All I had in my mind,” he wrote, “are how to destroy America. … I came up to this conclusion that targeting America’s economy is the most efficient way to draw the path of obliteration of America.”

Terrorism experts have several concerns about the plot. First, the suspect is from Bangladesh, which opens a new terror front for officials to worry about. And then there is his plot itself, the desire to explode a 1,000-pound bomb on the streets of New York.

“The magnitude of the plan seems to be beyond the most recent attempts that we have [seen]. He seems to be very determined. He seems like an individual who came here to be involved in a serious jihad. He really wanted to be involved in something bigger than 9/11. He certainly had a good plan,” said Dr. Maki Haberfeld of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Terrorism experts told CBS 2’s Kramer they’re worried that although the plot was foiled, other would-be jihadists could be inspired by Nafis to try other mega attacks. They said Nafis represents a new generation that’s not satisfied with the way things have been.

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