A California man who had communicated with the suspect in the plot to bomb the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan was arrested this week in a San Diego federal child pornography case, according to law enforcement sources and officials.
Louis Willie Carter II had communicated at times with the Bangladeshi man arrested Wednesday in the New York bomb plot, but was found not to have ties to the terror conspiracy, said a law enforcement official who asked not to be named. Officials declined to elaborate on the connection.
Federal agents, armed with a search warrant, raided Carter's San Diego apartment earlier this week after finding his discarded computer in the trash. It held more than 1,000 images and three video files depicting children as young as 5 engaged in sex acts with adults, according to an affidavit filed in San Diego federal district court.
The San Diego court filings said nothing about the New York terrorism case that led to the arrest Wednesday in New York of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who is accused of trying to detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb outside the Federal Reserve.
The San Diego U.S. attorney's office issued a news release late Thursday announcing Carter's indictment on child pornography charges, but didn't return emails and telephone calls for comment about the terror case connection. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York, which is prosecuting Nafis, declined to comment on the Carter case.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Thursday that a suspected co-conspirator with Nafis had been arrested in San Diego.
The inert bomb Nafis is accused of driving to Manhattan was made from materials stored at a Long Island warehouse used by the FBI in the undercover operation that snared him. Law enforcement sources said the warehouse was used by the FBI for various operations and that the agency didn't want to disclose its exact location.
The federal complaint against Nafis noted an August trip to the Financial District on foot and a drive on Saturday to the Federal Reserve to select a target. His trip to place the bomb Wednesday was detected by authorities, officials said, but there were instructions to allow the van containing the fake bomb to pass.
Nafis was snared after a confidential informant and an undercover FBI agent talked with him for months about his desire to commit an act of terror that would be so big it would "shake the whole country" and inspire other terrorists. The criminal complaint filed against Nafis said he told the undercover agent he was collaborating with a co-conspirator named "Yaqueen" and the informant. The complaint also noted that "Yaqueen" had been arrested on nonterrorism charges.
According to Nafis, "Yaqueen" told him in July about a military base in Baltimore with only one guard whom they could attack, something Nafis decided against, the complaint stated.
In San Diego, federal agents said in their search warrant affidavit that an examination of the computer, which they found in the trash, uncovered a number of email accounts, including email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nafis entered the United States in January on a student visa, officials said. He was enrolled as a full-time student, seeking a bachelor of science in cybersecurity at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, about 115 miles southwest of St. Louis, during the spring semester, school officials said. He transferred to the Manhattan campus of ASA College in New York, a business and computer technology school, after he was academically suspended from the Missouri school. There, he took classes in English as a Second Language, according to the office of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. Homeland Security spokesman Dan Cosgrove said he could not comment on Nafis, his arrest or his student visa. A call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials was not returned.
With Robert E. Kessler, Mackenzie Issler and Candice Ferrette