The day after a Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed to be a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, a neighbor spoke out, saying he had no idea what was being plotted, just downstairs.
The FBI said that Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Jamaica, traveled to the U.S. this January specifically to take part in a terrorist attack, and unknowingly enlisted the help of an undercover agent.
At first glance, neighbors say, Nafis was said to be harmless, and those who know him are shocked to hear the news.
“He’s a good looking guy, a very young kid,” said Nafis’ upstairs neighbor, Mohammad Chowdhery. “I feel really shocked.”
Nafis was reportedly considering the Federal Reserve Bank and several other targets for his attack, but settled on the bank because it was what he believed to be the most effective way to “destroy America” — by targeting the economy, according to the FBI.
The Bangladeshi national, who allegedly has overseas connections to Al-Qaeda, tried to recruit individuals to help him in his attack, and one of those was an FBI source.
The undercover agent gave Nafis non-working explosives, and later met him on the morning of Wednesday, October 17 and witnessed Nafis assembling the bomb. The two drove together to the Federal Reserve, and after Nafis unsuccessfully tried to detonate the bomb, he was arrested by authorities.
“You never know if he was practicing those things here,” said Chowdhery of their 93rd Avenue home. “If you see someone, you can’t realize what type of person they are.”
Nafis resided in a second-floor apartment with relatives, including Shamim Khan, his wife, their two-and-a- half year old daughter, and grandparents, according to Chowdhery.
After word of the alleged attempt leaked, Chowdhery tried to contact Khan, but got no response. He saw Khan when he got home from work on Wednesday, and said he looked distraught but said nothing.
Nafis was arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday afternoon, and has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Al-Qaeda. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola