NEW YORK -- A Bangladeshi man snared in an FBI terror sting considered targeting President Barack Obama before settling on a car bomb attack on The Federal Reserve in New York City, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and talked to the AP on condition of anonymity, stressed that the suspect never got beyond the discussion stage.
In a September meeting with an undercover agent posing as a fellow jihadist, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis explained he chose the Federal Reserve as his car bomb target "for operational reasons," according to a criminal complaint. Nafis also indicated he knew that choice would "cause a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children," the complaint said. He had also considered the New York Stock Exchange as a target.
The bomb was phony, but authorities alleged that Nafis' admiration of Osama bin Laden and aspirations for martyrdom were not.
FBI agents grabbed the 21-year-old Nafis - armed with a cellphone he believed was rigged as a detonator - after he made several attempts to blow up a fake 1,000-pound the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve Wednesday in lower Manhattan, the complaint said.
Nafis is a banker's son from a middle class neighborhood, and family members said Thursday that they were stunned by his arrest.
"My son can't do it," his father, Quazi Ahsanullah, said as he wept in his home in the Jatrabari neighborhood in north Dhaka, Bangladesh.
"He is very gentle and devoted to his studies," he said, pointing to Nafis' time at the private North South University in Dhaka.