With the goal of disrupting the presidential election and allegedly inspired by the teachings of the late radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, Nafis plotted the attack under the watch and guidance of undercover federal agents, federal court records show. He was arrested after allegedly trying to set of a van full of fake explosives provided to him by FBI agents he believed were terrorist operatives.
Nafis first came onto the FBI's radar in July when he tried to recruit an FBI source for a terror attack he was planning in the U.S. Nafis, whose full name is Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, entered the U.S. on a student visa in January and lives in Queens.
The records show Nafis was originally planning a suicide attack, but said he first wanted to visit his family back home in Bangladesh. But the undercover agent he thought was a terrorist operative warned him that he risked having his attack plan detected by law enforcement. The agent allegedly stated that while Nafis was free to return home at any time, he could not travel internationally if he really wanted to help al-Qaeda.
The agent later told Nafis that al-Qaeda leadership had given him permission to use remote-controlled explosives in the terror attack instead of killing himself so Nafis could return home and visit his family.
An affidavit from FBI special agent John Neas said Nafis began communicating via Facebook with the FBI's source as well as an unidentified co-conspirator located within the U.S. in July. He later met with an undercover law enforcement officer on July 24 in New York's Central Park, where Nafis allegedly said he was "ready for action" and wanted to make sure his attack would be something major.
"What I really mean, is that 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, that will make America, not one step ahead, change of policy, and make one step ahead, for the Muslims... that will make us one step closer to run the whole world," Nafis said during the meeting, according to the records.
According to the documents, Nafis said he was considering targeting the New York Stock Exchange in August and explained he needed a "big car with lots of fruits and vegetables in there which can blow up the whole New York Stock Exchange building." He later decided to target the Federal Reserve Bank.
"I decided to attack the Federal Reserve bank of New York which is by far the largest (by assets), most active (by volume) and most influential of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks," he wrote in an article he believed would be published in Inspire magazine, according to the records. "New York Federal Reserve bank implements monetary policy, supervises and regulates financial institutions and helps maintain the nation's payment systems."
Nafis also recorded a video in which he covered his face, wore sunglasses and disguised his voice.