NEW YORK—A Bangladeshi national was arrested in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday morning after he allegedly attempted to detonate a 1,000-pound inert bomb, according to law enforcement officials.
The 21-year-old man attempted to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank, according to his written statement obtained by the FBI. The man wanted to “destroy America,” and thought the best way was to “target America’s economy,” according to the FBI.
Shortly after arriving in the U.S. in January, the man started looking for cohorts to form a terror cell; which alerted law enforcement officials, who began an investigation. An FBI source went undercover and acted as if he was helping the man.
Later on, an undercover FBI agent posed as an al-Qaeda operative. The man requested explosives and was supplied with twenty 50-pound bags of what he thought were explosives but were not.
The man conducted surveillance on multiple locations, including an undisclosed location targeting a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange.
After choosing the New York Federal Reserve Bank, the man met the undercover FBI agent on Wednesday morning. They drove to a warehouse in East New York, where the man assembled the purported 1,000-pound bomb inside a van.
The two drove to the Federal Reserve Bank, and parked the van next to it. They walked into a nearby hotel where the man recorded a video statement to be released after the attack, saying, “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” according to the FBI.
After attempting to detonate the bomb multiple times, the man was arrested.
The multi-agency team collaborating on the investigation included the terrorism team at the FBI’s New York Field Office; the NYPD; and security teams at the Federal Reserve Bank and the New York Stock Exchange.
Officials stressed that the situation was tightly controlled during the entire operation and no one was at risk of being injured.
“The defendant thought he was striking a blow to the American economy. He thought he was directing confederates and fellow believers. At every turn, he was wrong, and his extensive efforts to strike at the heart of the nation’s financial system were foiled by effective law enforcement,” said Loretta E. Lynch, United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, in a statement.
The damage from a 1,000-pound bomb would “certainly not do miles of damage,” according to a representative of the National Explosive Ordinance Disposal Association. Without knowing the type of bomb it was and without direct assessment of the surrounding area where the bomb was to be detonated, it’s difficult to tell how much damage it could have caused, he said.
The bomb that was detonated in front of a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995 was a 4,000-pound. The effects were felt up to 16 blocks away.
Mary Galligan, FBI acting assistant director in charge of the New York field office, said in a statement that the defendant faces “severe consequences.”
“Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure,” she said.
The man made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn and faces the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Additional reporting by Amelia Pang.
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