ounterterrorism versus civil liberties federal reserve

Federal Reserve plot renews debate on counterterrorism versus civil liberties


Federal Reserve plot renews debate on counterterrorism versus civil liberties
Is the US striking the right balance between security and personal freedoms? It's an old question, but the answer remains elusive.
Lizzy TomeiOctober 19, 2012 12:22
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A US flag flies over the entrance to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on July 29, 2011. A Bangladeshi native was arrested Oct. 17, 2012, in an alleged plot to blow up the building, authorities say. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis had only been in the US for nine months when he was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday.

Nafis, with the help of an undercover FBI agent posing as an "Al Qaeda facilitator," had allegedly packed a van full of what he thought were explosives this week, NBC reported. After parking the van in front of the Federal Reserve building and walking to a nearby hotel, Nafis attempted to detonate the vehicle remotely with a cellphone, according to The New York Times, citing the complaint against him.

The Times wrote:

"...The entire plot played out under the surveillance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department as part of an elaborate sting operation, according to court papers.... The case appears to be the latest to fit a model in which, in the process of flushing out people they believe present a risk of terrorism, federal law enforcement officials have played the role of enabler."

The native of Bangladesh, 21, was arrested and charged with trying to blow up New York's Federal Reserve Bank with what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb. He also stands accused of supplying material support to Al Qaeda.

While it's impossible to speculate on the guilt, innocence or intent of the accused, the case nonetheless — as the Times points out — brings up the thorny question of where to draw the line between fighting terror and provoking it.