NEW YORK — The Bangladeshi man arrested on charges that he plotted to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York had an accomplice in San Diego, who was arrested later on unrelated child-pornography charges, a law enforcement official said Thursday.
The alleged accomplice, Howard Willie Carter II, was arrested after an FBI agent found 1,000 images and three video files containing child pornography on a laptop and hard drive in the trash near Carter's apartment, according to a government document. Officials used material stored on the computer to trace it to Carter.
The computer also contained emails addressed to "Yaqeen," a name New York prosecutors said Carter used in the bombing plot.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged the Bangladeshi man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and with providing material support to al-Qaida. They said he tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb hidden in a van parked near the Federal Reserve.
Nafis had been under surveillance for months as part of an elaborate sting operation. An undercover officer gave him fake bomb material that could not have exploded. Nafis met several times with the undercover officer to plan the attack, and mentioned he was collaborating with Yaqeen, who was identified in the complaint as a co-conspirator.
In July, the complaint against Nafis said, he told the undercover agent that Yaqeen had told him about a military base in Baltimore, with only one guard standing outside, that they could attack.
Carter had been placed under surveillance in San Diego as early as August, according to court documents in the pornography case. A federal agent there found the computer involved in that case on Aug. 16, but officials waited until after Nafis' arrest to arrest Carter.
Nafis arrived in the United States in January on a student visa. Prosecutors said he later tried to recruit people to form a terrorist cell and contacted a confidential informer who introduced him to the undercover agent.
He was arrested Wednesday after he and the agent parked the van at the Federal Reserve building and went to a hotel, where Nafis tried to detonate it by dialing a number on his cellphone, according to the complaint.