Nafis, a Bangladeshi youth who authorities say tried to blow up New York's Federal Reserve Bank, was indicted Thursday on charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and trying to provide material support to al-Qaeda.
The 21-year-old foreign exchange student was arrested by federal authorities in a sting operation last month. He was accused of trying to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb by using his cell phone as a trigger.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, allegedly inspired by al-Qaeda, came to the United States in January on a student visa under the pretext of attending college at Southeast Missouri State University, prosecutors said.
It's not clear whether Nafis maintained al Qaeda ties, but authorities say he claimed that the plot was his own and was his sole motivation for the US trip.
A US District Court grand jury in New York charged Nafis with trying to use a bomb as a weapon of mass destruction and trying to provide explosives and communications equipment to al Qaeda terrorists, the indictment says.
In Bangladesh, Nafis graduated from high school in 2006 and took his higher secondary school certificate examinations in 2008 before he enrolled in the country's leading private university, North South University, in Dhaka, documents say.
Nafis travelled to the United States with "the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack" and actively sought out al-Qaeda contacts after his arrival, authorities in New York allege.
He majored in cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri State University from January to May of this year, a university spokeswoman said. At the end of the spring semester, he was elected vice president of the Muslim Student Association, but his term was short-lived because he left the campus, the spokeswoman said.
His father, Quazi Mohammad Ahsanullah, has said that he can't believe the terrorist accusations and that his son is timid person who's often scared to travel alone.
The father, a banker in Dhaka, said his son left college in Missouri after one semester because of the expense and went to New York, where he worked 10-hour days at a hotel.
In the sting operation, Nafis apparently contacted an FBI source and proposed multiple targets, including a high-ranking US official and the New York Stock Exchange, authorities said.