Former Southeast student arrested in terror plot
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS/RNN) - Authorities have stopped a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank.
The FBI on Wednesday morning detained one suspect who it believes is responsible for the attempted attack, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, from Bangladesh.
According to officials at Southeast Missouri State University, Nafis was enrolled at the University for the Spring Semester 2012, from January 17 to May 11, 2012.
He was an international student, pursuing a Bachelors of Science in cyber security.
He was a full time student enrolled in 12 credit hours. He is no longer enrolled.
"I have met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and have been assured that there is no reason to be concerned about safety issues on the Southeast campus," said Southeast President Kenneth Dobbins in a letter to the campus community. "The FBI has indicated that Southeast was never a target of terrorism and the campus community can rest assured that all possible safety and security procedures have been and are continuing to be followed."
"This was very distant from the campus, very unfortunate," said Debbie Below, Assoc. VP for Enrollment at Southeast Missouri State University. "While I believe 99.9 percent of our students are here for the right reasons, unfortunately, this does happen. We see examples of this across the nation all the time. So, we are very saddened by this, of course."
Jim Dow of Sikeston said he was in Physics class with Nafis at Southeast, and was shocked to see his picture on the news.
Dow would give Nafis a ride from class to the corner of Broadway and West End Boulevard where he would drop him off.
"I was really shocked to see this on TV I was watching the CBS and they had the drawing on there and it popped in my head that looks like kazi...and then they said he was a student at SEMO and I said oh my gosh that might have been kazi and then they showed the picture and it was," said Dow. "I really I'm amazed that he tried to do something violent like that I would have never suspected."
Cape Girardeau Police were contacted by the FBI in connection with an investigation involving a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank.
Cape Girardeau Police say they are working with the FBI, but have not been asked to assist yet with the investigation.
The FBI arrested Nafis in lower Manhattan after he attempted to detonate a 1,000 pound bomb. He assembled the bomb inside a van earlier in the morning on his way into NYC.
The public was never at risk, according to authorities. The explosives in the Federal Reserve bomb plot were not active, and two of the suspect's accomplices were an FBI source and an undercover agent.
"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure," said FBI New York Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan. "The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences."
Nafis will be arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court and charged with attempting to provide material support and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
He traveled to the U.S. in January and actively sought out al-Qaeda contacts within the U.S. to assist in carrying out an attack, according to the FBI in New York.
He was enrolled as a full-time student at Southeast Missouri State University from January to May 2012 majoring in cyber security.
The FBI said Nafis proposed several targets for his attack, including a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange. In a written statement meant to claim responsibility for the intended attack on the Fed, Nafis referred to "our beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden" to justify his intention to kill women and children.
He recorded a video statement to the public, stating: "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom." Nafis wanted to "destroy America," according to the FBI, and believed the best way was to target the U.S. economy.
An undercover FBI agent posed as Nafis's al-Qaeda facilitator and provided him with inert materials to assemble and detonate the bomb. The FBI arrested the suspect immediately after he unsuccessfully attempted to set off the bomb.
The New York Fed employs about 2,700 officers and staff at the head office and the regional office in East Rutherford, NJ, according to its website.
The bank works within the Federal Reserve System and with other public and private sector institutions to foster safety, soundness and growth of the nation's economy and financial systems.
It is one of 12 regional reserve banks that combine with the Board of Governors in Washington to make the Federal Reserve System.
The Federal Reserve Bank holds the largest stash of gold bullion in the world in a vault 80 feet below its surface.
Watch Heartland News at 5, 6, 9 and 10 to hear from Southeast President Dr. Ken Dobbins, a student who lived in the same complex with Nafis, and other students on the Southeast campus.
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