NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Bangladeshi man has pleaded guilty in a plot to bomb the Federal Reserve Building in lower Manhattan.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, entered the plea Thursday and apologized, saying “I no longer support violent Jihad. I deeply and sincerely regret my involvement with this case.”
Nafis was in the country on a student visa when he was arrested in an FBI sting operation in October.
Federal prosecutors said Nafis was in the process of trying to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb packed into a van parked on Liberty Street near the building.
The explosive device had been supplied by an undercover FBI agent and was never operable, authorities said.
Right before attempting to set off the bomb, Nafis made a video in which he said, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” authorities said.
Investigators said the Bangladesh native traveled to New York a little more than a year ago with the intent of carrying out a terrorist attack on American soil and allegedly sought out al Qaeda operatives, but instead recruited an FBI source.
Authorities said Nafis proposed several targets for his attack, including a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange, before settling on the Federal Reserve Bank.
According to the indictment, in one meeting in July he told an informant, “I don’t want something that’s, like, small. I just want something big, something very big. Very very very very big, that will shake the whole country.”
At the time, Nafis said he’d been influenced by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and the al Qaeda magazine “Inspire.”
An FBI affidavit said Nafis wanted to “destroy America” and that “the most efficient way to accomplish this goal was to target America’s economy.”
“He came here with the intent not to study but to commit violent Jihad. Once here, he refined his plan and determined to commit a large explosive attack in the New York City area,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. “At every opportunity, this defendant showed his determination and his commitment to this plan.”
Nafis was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
“Had he not been intercepted by law enforcement, had he instead found individuals who were truly committed to this, we would have been looking at a plot very similar to that carried out by Najibullah Zazi and other individuals who were convicted here very recently,” said Lynch.
Zazi is the confessed ringleader of a plot to set off coordinated explosions in the New York City subway system.
“He pleaded guilty because he is guilty. He takes full responsibility for his behavior and he deeply regrets his actions in this case,” his attorney, Heidi Cesare, told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello. “I believe his expression of remorse is absolutely sincere and we hope the court will consider it at sentencing.”
“I think it’s up to the judge to determine the level of remorse and that will certainly be a factor at sentencing,” Lynch added.
He faces a possible life term when he is sentenced on May 30.
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