Name: Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis
Date of Birth: 1991
Place of Birth: Bangladesh
Citizenship: Bangladesh, entered United States in January 2012 on student visa
Date of Arrest: October 17, 2012
Charge: Attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, giving material support to a terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda
Key Issues: Entrapment
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was born in the year 1991 in the country of Bangladesh. He grew up in Bangladesh attending primary and secondary education in the country. He grew up mainly in social isolation without many friends. He began his university studies in Bangladesh at North South University, according to ‘The Daily Star’ an English language daily newspaper in Bangladesh. He managed to attain a student visa which allowed him to study at Southeast Missouri State University located in the southern region of the United States. He matriculated on to the Southeast Missouri State University campus in January of 2012. His chosen field of study at Southeast Missouri State University was cyber security. However, in the first semester of his studies he began to struggle and decided not to continue pursuing his education at the university. For the most part people who became acquainted with him did not find him to be a violent individual.
For the most part his classmates did not find him to be a violent individual or have a growing political hatred of America. One of Nafis’ fellow classmates said Nafis had told him that Muslims do not do violent acts and had discussed religion with him in a civil manner. A fellow student who participated in Muslim organization with Nafis on campus characterized him as an honest and trustworthy person who did not display any anti-American tendencies. Some of the fellow Bangladeshi students who traveled to study at the Missouri University with Nafis mentioned that they became alarmed when he began to openly watch a video of Islamic preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki on a plane and started to talk more often of violence in relation to such videos. While the last act is quiet alarming and might signal something terrible, for an American citizen this would fall under protected speech by the first amendment. Because Nafis is not a US citizen he is not receiving such protections.
After failing to fit in socially or academically at Southeast Missouri State University Nafis moved to the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens in New York and stayed in the apartment of relatives. It was here that Nafis tried to find a connection to the terrorist group Al Qaeda. He searched online for such a connection. He met a person online who began to talk and brainstorm with him about vague ideas until a coherent plot was developed to plant a bomb at a major American landmark. He thought he had begun to engage with Al Qaeda and checked to make sure whether his collaborators were in fact in league with Al Qaeda. His online collaborators agreed to help him plant the bomb at the New York Federal Reserve building located in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan. While Nafis purchased the materials his collaborators helped him build the device that would supposedly help Nafis achieve his goal.
On October 17, 2012 Nafis and his collaborators loaded what had become a 10,000 pound device into a van to drive to the New York Federal Reserve building. He and his collaborators then drove to the site to detonate the bomb. The bomb was a cell phone triggered bomb. Nafis tried to activate the bomb through his cell phone, yet the bomb did not detonate. After his failed attempt his collaborators arrested him. His collaborators were in fact FBI agents and had been monitoring Nafis’ activities and engaged him online. No one had ever been in any danger. While the emotional impetus came from Nafis to engineer such a plot without the aid of the FBI agents the plot would not have been possible.
On August 9, 2013 Quazi Nafis was sentenced to 30 years in prison for using a weapon of mass destruction and giving material support to a terrorist organization. Before he was sentenced Nafis was described by his attorney as a loner who grew up a tough childhood as he received beatings from relatives and teasing from peers of his stammer. More over in a letter to the judge Nafis had written in which he fervently recanted his violent beliefs he discussed how he felt terrible after he found that a girlfriend had been cheating on him and drove him to violent thoughts. This emotional background places Nafis’ struggle in a new and more important light. While prosecutors and investigators are trying to cast Nafis’ violent act as political it seems much of the emotional impetus towards violence seems to have developed from social isolation and academic failure. Nafis’ troubles seem much more psychological in this light. After reading Nafis’ letter the judge concluded that Nafis truly did feel remorse of his actions. It is important to note that in this case reporters, prosecutors and investigators were quick to emphasize political motivations for Nafis’ violent actions but failed to address and help Nafis with his emotional problems in lieu of helping plant a bomb at the New York Reserve. It is this type of logic that allows the American justice system to create, aid, abet and entrap people who seek to perform violent acts rather than steer clear of such actions.
Conflicting images emerge in US: http://archive.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=254519
This article brings for quote testimonies of Nafis’ classmates who knew him while he studied at Southeast Missouri State University. It demonstrates that to most people he was not outwardly violent.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis Probed By Bangladesh Police; Teachers, Classmates Questioned: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/20/quazi-mohammad-rezwanul-ahsan-nafis-probed-bangladesh-police_n_1992453.html
This article explains Nafis’ academic background in Bangladesh. The actions of his father to help free his son and the lengths that Bangladeshi authorities are cooperating with American investigative forces.
Man Is Charged With Plotting to Bomb Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/nyregion/arrest-in-plot-to-blow-up-federal-reserve-bank.html?_r=0
This article mentions how FBI investigators were with Nafis every step of the way from the origination of the plot to its execution until the agents finally arrested Nafis.
30-Year Prison Sentence in Plot to Bomb U.S. Bank: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/10/nyregion/30-year-sentence-for-man-who-tried-to-bomb-federal-reserve.html?_r=0
This article tells us the verdict in the sentencing of Nafis and summarizes who the FBI agents had been with Nafis from conception to arrest
New York Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Bomb New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan: Defendant Attempted to Strike New York’s Financial District on Behalf of al Qaeda: http://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2013/new-york-man-pleads-guilty-to-attempting-to-bomb-new-york-federal-reserve-bank-in-lower-manhattan
FBI document which discusses the process of catching Nafis and his eventual confession to the crime of trying to operate a weapon of mass destruction.