Fed bomb plot man gets 30 years
A 22-year-old Bangladeshi man who begged for leniency after pleading guilty to terrorism charges for trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
"I'm ashamed. I'm lost. I tried to do a terrible thing. I alone am responsible for what I've done. Please forgive me," Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis said before his sentence was handed down in Manhattan federal court. He apologised to the judge, the United States, New York City and his parents.
Nafis became radicaliced at his university in Bangladesh and came to the USwith aspirations of jihad, according to lawyers on both sides. He said personal problems also were a factor.
The defendant had said in a five-page typed letter to Judge Carol Bagley Amon that he no longer believed in radical Islam. "My actions are inexcusable and cowardly," he wrote. "After giving a deep thought I truly hate my actions and I know that I will never pursue such behaviour again that is not only un-Islamic, but also destroyed my family and my life."
He was charged in October with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaida. He pleaded guilty in February.
Nafis told the judge he had a stammering problem and no real friends in his native country. "For being a very simple guy I fall for people very easily," he wrote in explaining how he fell in with a group of radical students at his university there. "I was becoming religious but never realised that I was misguided slowly but surely with the wrong teachings of Islam."
He originally came to the United States to study cybersecurity at a Missouri college where he also became vice president of the school's Muslim student association. But he was put on probation because of poor grades, he said, and came to New York to find a job. While in New York, he discovered a woman he cared about back in Bangladesh was cheating on him, he said. It made him suicidal, which is forbidden in his religion, he said, and pushed him over the edge.
Authorities say Nafis adopted increasingly more radical views and began using Facebook and other social media to seek support for a terror attack. One of his contacts turned out to be a government informant who notified authorities. While under investigation, Nafis spoke of his admiration for Osama bin Laden and talked of writing an article about his plot for an al Qaida-affiliated magazine. He also talked about wanting to kill President Barack Obama and bomb the New York Stock Exchange.
As the plot progressed, Nafis selected his target, drove a van loaded with dummy explosives to the door of the bank and tried to set off the bomb from a hotel room using a mobile phone he thought had been rigged as a detonator. No one was ever actually in danger because the explosives were fakes provided by the government.
Nafis said he has been shown great kindness while in the US - and in prison. "Everybody is very respectful towards religion," he wrote. He has been allowed to pray, and given halal food and fresh fruits. "Truly after being in prison, my viewpoints toward America has really changed," he said. "I want to say to Your Honour that I love Americans."