Once again, evidence was gathered on Facebook to thwart a would-be terrorist from executing his plans to bomb a major Wall Street landmark Wednesday. Terror suspect Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who was arrested Wednesday in New York , allegedly used Facebook to discuss his plans to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank with a co-conspirator and an FBI informant with whom he sought guidance on his obligations under Islamic law.
According to the criminal complaint, “The three discussed certain Islamic legal rulings that advise that it is unlawful for a person who enters a country with a visa to wage jihad there.” The 21-year-old from Bangladesh had been in the U.S. attending Southeast Missouri State University.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog consulted legal scholar Clark Lombardi, a University of Washington professor and expert on Islamic law, who wasn’t surprised that Nafis turned to an online source such as Facebook to seek an answer to his questions:
A Muslim would try to think about all the possible angles that weigh on the morality of an action. The fate of their soul for eternity depends on them getting the answer right.
That means a Muslim could turn to books, scholars, or even an online resource or social network for answers, Lombardi added. However, it’s mind-boggling to think that Nafis would take to such a public forum as Facebook to express his concerns and ask for feedback regarding his bomb plot.
This isn’t the first time that Facebook has been involved in a criminal exercise. Last month, a Pittsburgh man took a hostage in a downtown office building and posted updates throughout the ordeal to his Facebook profile.
Nafis used Facebook to confer with a co-conspirator in Bangladesh who said he was not bound by such Islamic rulings. Accordingly, Nafis felt that he was free to continue with his plan to conduct a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Nafis was arrested Wednesday morning after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb inside a van parked at the New York Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street.