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Prosecutor: Nafis Sought To Attack U.S. Even Before Leaving Bangladesh

(credit: Image via CBS 2)

(credit: Image via CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just who is Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, the suspect in the bomb plot targeting the Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan?

A banker in Bangladesh said he spent his life savings to send the quiet, timid boy to college in America. At Southeast Missouri State University, the small campus where attended classes for the spring semester last school year, other students from Bangladesh characterized him as an intense young man who became angrier and more radical over time.

But as CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller reported, prosecutors have provided a different story. They said he formed his plan to attack the U.S. even before he left Bangladesh.

“What is clear is that when he arrived here, he had already conceived of the plan to construct a bomb of some sort and of large magnitude and to effect great destruction,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who will be prosecuting Nafis’ case. “What’s also clear is that he had already conceived of the plan to come here and recruit others already in the U.S. to join him, and that’s what he actually set about doing.”

Lynch’s office – the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York – has prosecuted major terrorism cases – from the al Qaeda plot to bomb New York subways to the plot to blow up the fuel lines supplying John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Lynch said in the Federal Reserve bombing plot, Nafis turned to an unlikely place to find his accomplices.

“This defendant used Facebook,” Lynch said. “There are internet chat rooms, there are websites, there are blogs devoted to terrorist thinking that are out there that can draw people in.”

One of those Nafis recruited online turned out to be an informant, who introduced the 21-year-old student to an undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaeda facilitator.

Critics have said in such cases as Nafis’, the FBI becomes an enabler of plots that the defendant could never pull off himself. But Lynch disagreed.

“This case specifically concerned an individual who came here recruiting other, who was in fact recruiting when he came into the orbit of the FBI-JTTF, and who made it very clear that he knew what kind of bomb he wanted and he knew how to make it,” she said. “He was giving the instructions here. He was directing the undercover as to what to purchase and what kind of bomb he wanted; what size bomb he wanted.”

Lynch said Nafis, who was under constant surveillance, became a challenge for the FBI undercover agent to keep up with.

“The undercover would leave for a few days and come back and find out that this defendant had done his own surveillance, had drawn his own maps, had decided on his own to change the plan and change the particular target of this terrorist bomb,” Lynch said.

Prosecutors said in this case, during the undercover phase, Nafis was given more than one chance to back out.

But Lynch said, “The response was, ‘I’m going to do it,’” and that Nafis even said he would be willing to die in the process.

<a title="Feds: Man Traveled To U.S. To Carry Out Attack; Targeted Federal Reserve Bank Of New York" href="http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/10/17/man-arrested-in-alleged-plot-to-attack-federal-reserve-bank-in-lower-manhattan/"Last week, in what Nafis allegedly thought was the culmination of a lengthy plot, federal officials said Nafis and the agent drove a truck filled with inoperable explosives to lower Manhattan and parked it outside the Federal Reserve.

Nafis and the agent then went to a hotel to watch the explosion Nafis was expecting, and record a video of it, according to the complaint Agents arrested Nafis in the hotel after he tried to detonate the bomb, authorities said.

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