As reported yesterday, the FBI arrested Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Bangladesh, for attempting to blow up a bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in lower Manhattan. It didn’t happen because the bomb was a fake, provided for him by the FBI. (Also, please tell me I wasn’t the only libertarian who worried at first it was some nut who had attached himself to the “End the Fed” folks)
Spencer Ackerman at Wired delved through the government’s complaint to get the details. Assuming the complaint is the truth, the guy’s intentions were legit, but his competence … well, maybe not so much:
The Justice Department alleges that Nafis came to Queens, New York, in January from Bangladesh on a student visa — and quickly began exploring his options for pulling off a terrorist attack. Only Nafis was so inattentive to keeping his operation a secret that he practically stood on a street corner and waved his arms until the FBI and NYPD took notice.
In July, Nafis crossed the radar of an anonymous FBI informant, according to the criminal complaint against him. When they initially spoke on a phone call, Nafis attempted to cover himself with a crude code: He was a fan of “O” (Osama bin Laden), a reader of “I” (Inspire, al-Qaida’s English-language webzine for DIY terrorism), and he wanted to pull off “J” (jihad). But the very next day, Nafis was so trusting that he openly discussed on Facebook “Islamic legal rulings” on the permissibility of bombing a country that granted him a student visa. Within a week, was ranting in person to the informant about killing “a high-ranking government official” and boasting of his ties to al-Qaida.
The informant did what informants in these cases do: snitch. He told Nafis that he knew a member of al-Qaida in New York. An excited Nafis attended a meeting with the al-Qaida agent in Central Park on July 24, where he allegedly gushed about wanting to pull off something “very, very very very big, that will shake the whole country, that will make America not one step ahead, change of policy… [but] that will make us one step closer to run[ning] the whole world.”
The “member of al-Qaida” was, of course, an FBI agent. Reason readers know full well that the FBI has a stellar reputation for creating terrorist activities to thwart, organizing plans and pushing hapless goons along for the ride before arresting them. Nafis doesn’t appear to fall in this category, but we’re only getting one side of the story so far.