Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The foiled terrorist plot to blow up the Federal Reserve in New York is linked to Baltimore. But exactly what that tie is remains unclear.
Alex DeMetrick has been looking into the Maryland connection.
That link is sketchy but it involves a local military facility and a co-conspirator of the man arrested on Wednesday in New York.
Quazi Ahsan Nafis’ alleged plan didn’t work, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says his effort to blow up the Federal Reserve in Manhattan on Wednesday started to fall apart when he reached out on the Internet “to destroy America on behalf of al-Qaeda.”
It’s chatter that brought in undercover agents.
“They were able to find this individual because of things he was saying on the Internet, which was very positive for them to pick this up,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Maryland, said.
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Ruppersberger was formally briefed on what happened next– how undercover agents supplied one 1,000-lbs. in fake bomb materials that Nafis, 21, parked outside the Fed.
He was arrested when he tried to trigger the bomb from a hotel with a cell phone.
“New York is at the top of the terrorist target list in this country, and I think this just reaffirms that,” Commissioner Ray Kelly of the New York Police Department (NYPD) said.
But in court documents, Baltimore also comes up along with a co-conspirator called Yaqueen who suggested targeting a military base here.
Whether that’s the Fifth Regiment Armory or some other facility or base outside city limits is unknown.
But it was allegedly rejected by Nafis for being too small.
“I have not been briefed on the Baltimore situation, but I will be briefed on that next week,” Ruppersberger said.
“Obviously, he was looking for a bigger impact with his activities,” Vernon Herron of the University of Maryland’s Center for Health and Homeland Security said.
Nafis left his native Bangladesh last January to study in the United States.
His family is stunned by the allegations of terrorism.
“We don’t think it can be done by him because in Bangladesh, he was not like this,” Nafis’ sister said. “He was a good boy.”
With Nafis in custody, the FBI is now focused on finding the co-conspirator who suggested Baltimore as a target, as well as any others who may have been involved in the plot.
If convicted of the terrorism charges, Nafis could face life in prison.