Who is Quazi Mohammed Nafis? When CBS News asked his father, a banker in Bangladesh, he said he’d spent his life savings to send the quiet, timid boy to college in America.
At a small Missouri college, Nafis struck fellow students from Bangladesh as an intense young man who became more angry and radical over time. But prosecutors say Nafis had formed his plan to attack the U.S. even before he left Bangladesh.
In an interview with CBS News, Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York said: “What is clear is that when he arrived here, he had already conceived of the plan to construct a bomb of some sort and of large magnitude and to effect great destruction. What’s also clear is that he had already conceived of the plan to come here and recruit others already in the U.S. to join him, and that’s what he actually set about doing.”
Lynch is the chief prosecutor on the Nafis case. Her office has prosecuted major terrorism cases from the al Qaeda plot to bomb New York subways, to the plot to blow up the fuel lines supplying Kennedy Airport. Lynch says the Nafis case is another reminder of the key role the internet and social media play in terrorism.
When Nafis came onto the FBI’s radar, he was trying to “friend” his way into recruiting small cell.
“This defendant used Facebook. There are internet chat rooms, there are websites, there are blogs devoted to terrorist thinking that are out there that can draw people in,” Lynch said.
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One of those Nafis recruited turned out to be an informant, who introduced the 21-year-old student to an FBI undercover agent posing as an al Qaeda facilitator. Critics of such sting operations have charged that the government becomes an enabler for a plot that the suspect could never achieve. In this case, the federal prosecutor takes exception.