Man behind bars after plot to blow up Federal Reserve Building discovered
A 21-year-old is behind bars after a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Building in New York City was foiled. Vivian Lee has the latest from New York.
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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- As a Queens man who authorities say was on a mission to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank remains held without bail, public officials are calling for stricter rules when it comes to student visas.
The U.S. Justice Department says Quazi Nafis, 21, parked a van packed with what he thought was a 1,000 pound bomb outside the Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Joint Terrorism Task Force says they first learned of the plot early this summer, when Nafis spoke to someone he thought was sympathetic to al-Qaeda, but was actually an FBI source.
Nafis was arrested after he tried to detonate the fake bomb with a cell phone from the Millennium Hotel.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the Bangladeshi national came to the country on a student visa and tried to recruit others to form a terror cell.
Prosecutors say an undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaeda operative supplied Nafis with twenty 50 pound bags of fake explosives.
Nafis reportedly considered assassinating President Barack Obama and also looked into bombing the New York Stock Exchange.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly classified Nafis as a dangerous man who didn't care who he killed.
"He also checked with a source back in Bangladesh as to whether or not he would be, because he was a visitor to a country, if it would be alright or acceptable if women and children were killed. And apparently he got, in his mind anyway, permission to, to do that," Kelly said.
Federal prosecutors say Nafis was monitored closely by the FBI in New York and members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the public was never in danger.
While appearing in federal court Wednesday night, Nafis quietly told the judge he understood the charges against him.
He's charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.
Prosecutors have 30 days to convene a grand jury and get an indictment.
After his arrest, federal agents swept through the Jamaica, Queens apartment where Nafis was staying.
On Wednesday, FBI agents could be seen carrying boxes of potential evidence from the second floor apartment located at 169-33 93rd Avenue.
The building's landlord says Nafis showed up six weeks ago as a guest of one of his tenants.
"I didn't know his name until today," said the landlord. "I knew he was living here as a guest. I asked him how long he'd be here and he said he's looking for somewhere else to live."
The landlord says he was told Nafis was a cousin of one of the tenants.
In the meantime, Senator Charles Schumer says this latest case raises questions of oversight when it comes to student visas. Schumer says the government accountability office recently found and reported on instances where illegal student visas were being sold by so-called "sham universities."
"We do know that the student visa program in the hands of a few wrongdoers. So-called sham universities around the country are serving as a back door for foreign nationals to enter our country improperly and it's very easy for a would-be terrorist to figure out how to get a student visa from one of these sham universities," Schumer said.
Authorities say Nafis entered the country on a student visa to attend Southern Missouri University and later transferred to another school.