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October 18th, 2012
07:42 AM ET

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Brookes on foiled NY terror plot: 'The threat is still with us'

CNN is following the story of an alleged New York terror plot busted by the FBI. The target was the New York Federal Reserve Bank and authorities have arrested 21-year-old suspect Quazi Nafis for the alleged attempt. The Bangladeshi national tried to set off 1,000 lbs of dummy explosives from a car he parked outside the bank. The bombs were part of a complex FBI sting, however, and investigators say there was never an actual threat. Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Brookes joins John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin on “Early Start” with his take. Brookes is currently a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation.

Brookes lays down the seriousness of the attempt. “It’s obviously very serious, especially since it’s the most recent. The threat is still with us.” He says that “there have been 53 foiled terror plots on the United States since 9/11.” New York City Police say this is the 15th terror plot foiled at the NYFederal Reserve Bank  since 9/11.

Brookes considers the suspect, who prosecutors say was inspired by al Qaeda, “a wannabe.” “He says he has contacts overseas with al Qaeda. The FBI is telling us now they can’t find any at this point,” Brookes says.  But Brookes weighs the severity of the consequences of the attack had it been legitimate. “This certainly wouldn’t have been helpful” to our struggling economy, he says. “One of the things I’m really worried about is a cyber attack against our financial systems. And especially for our private sector, they need to be prepared here,” Brookes says. “The next one may be attacking, choosing to go via the Internet, as opposed to via a van filled with explosives.”

October 18th, 2012
07:40 AM ET

National Correspondent Susan Candiotti on alleged NY terror plot foiled: '“If this had been an actual bomb, he could have killed a lot of people'

FBI foiled an alleged terror plot to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank of New York yesterday. A 21-year-old Bangladeshi national is accused in the alleged plot. Identified as Quazi Nafis, the young man was in the United States on a student visa and majoring in cybersecurity at SoutheastMissouriStateUniversity from January until May of this year. Nafis is now in federal custody and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Nafis allegedly parked a van outside the bank equipped with 1,000 lbs of dummy explosives. They were provided by an undercover agent, and Nafis attempted to detonate it. The dummy bombs were a part of a sting operation that failed to accomplish his mission and Nafis was subsequently arrested. National Correspondent Susan Candiotti has more on this developing story.

Authorities were able to uncover this plot from early on, Candiotti reports. “They had their eye on him a very long time,“ she says. Nafis moving to New York after finishing school and got on social media to reach out to “people that prosecutors say he thought could help him to destroy America. He wanted to target America and wreck the economy.” Nafis eventually connected with someone on Facebook who turned out to be working for the FBI. “And that’s when authorities set up this elaborate sting.”

Nafis targeted the landmark NY bank, which Candiotti reports is home to the world’s largest supply of gold bullion. “If this had been an actual bomb, he could have killed a lot of people, authorities say.”