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FBI thwarts NY terror plot -

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ELEANOR HALL: A man has been arrested in New York for plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan's crowded financial district.

Authorities say the American public was never at risk from Quazi Nafis because his plan was thwarted by an FBI sting operation.

Agents had provided the would-be attacker with a fake bomb as North America correspondent Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: A written statement allegedly left by the 21-year-old Bangladeshi man leaves no doubt about his intentions.

Prosecutors say the note was meant to claim responsibility for the bombing of the Federal Reserve on behalf of al Qaeda, explaining the accused wanted to "destroy America" and believed the most efficient way to accomplish that goal was to target the US economy.

The New York police commissioner Ray Kelly.

RAY KELLY: He came here in January of this year. He gets a student visa under the pretext of being a student in a college in Missouri and he comes here with, again, the avowed purpose of committing some sort of jihad here in the United States.

He goes to the New York Stock Exchange, he sees that there is significant security there and he shifts his target to the Federal Reserve Bank.

JANE COWAN: Prosecutors say the man tried to recruit accomplices, boasting he had connections to al Qaeda and justifying the killing of women and children by quoting Osama bin Laden.

What he didn't' know was he had actually recruited an undercover FBI agent.

The FBI furnished the accused with what he believed was a 450 kilogram bomb and when he tried to detonate the device in a truck today, he was arrested.

In a brief court appearance prosecutors said the man's professed terrorist links were largely aspirational.

But police commissioner Ray Kelly didn't use that term.

RAY KELLY: I don't call it aspirational when you go in and pick 50 20-pound bags of ammonium nitrate and you obtain a truck and you bring it to the site of a major federal facility and you try to detonate it. That goes way past aspirational to me.

JANE COWAN: There are reports the man told the FBI agent he wanted to kill the US president Barack Obama but police commissioner Kelly wouldn't confirm that.

If the authorities were keeping an even tone, Fox News felt no such need.

This was the treatment the story received there.

FOX NEWS REPORTER 1: The guy's name is Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, he might be Muslim, no actually he's a Lutheran. I'm kidding!

And Obama's already come out about this federal plot. He's blaming the movie Wall Street (laughter) and he may arrest Oliver Stone.

JANE COWAN: One presenter explained the danger to viewers in dramatic terms.

FOX NEWS REPORTER 2: Leaving aside what would have been a horrendous body count, think of that. If our basic currency system was drawn to halt, I'm telling you my friends, if that happened for even an hour, recession. A day, depression.

JANE COWAN: The former CIA operative Wayne Simmons describes the foiling of the plot as a "monumental achievement" for authorities.

WAYNE SIMMONS: When you see something this sophisticated and this complicated, which is what this act would have been, you have to understand that the target was the Federal Reserve apparently. This is not going into Disneyland. Believe me, a 1,000 pound bomb, that is no joke. That is equivalent to, I would suspect, to what took down the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

So, you know, this is a big deal.

JANE COWAN: Police commissioner Ray Kelly acknowledges the foiled plot shows New York remains an attractive target for terrorists.

RAY KELLY: We see this front as being with us for a long time to come.

JANE COWAN: And more than a decade after September 11, it shows why New York still assigns more than 1,000 police officers a day to counterterrorism duties.

This is Jane Cowan reporting for The World Today.