Federal Reserve bomb plotter Quazi Mohammed Nafis denounces radical Islam, praises America and says in a new letter to his sentencing judge that his terror scheme was driven by suicidal depression after learning that his Bangladeshi girlfriend was cheating on him.
"I felt like the whole sky fell down over my head," Nafis wrote to Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Carol Amon. "I could not kill myself, which is forbidden in Islam. I lost the ability to think straight. I went crazy. And that way I justified my killing myself with a jihadist act."
Nafis, 21, a banker's son who came to the United States on a student visa, was caught in a sting last fall planning to detonate a truck bomb at the Federal Reserve in lower Manhattan. He pleaded guilty and faces up to life in prison at his scheduled sentencing on Friday.
In contrast to other accused terrorists who have denounced the United States to the end, Nafis took the opposite tack in his bid for leniency, calling radical Islamist teachings "evil and inhumane" and repeatedly professing love for America in the July 31 letter, unsealed Wednesday at Newsday's request.
He praised ordinary Americans for small kindnesses, gave a shout-out to guards and inmates at the federal lockup in Brooklyn for listening to him and giving him a box of holiday treats -- "Even I, who went against America, got the package" -- and even said his favorite movie was "American Pie."
"My viewpoint toward America has really changed," he said. "I want to say to your honor, I love Americans."
Nafis also thanked the agents who caught him, telling Amon that they treated him like a "little brother" and saved him from a downward spiral by using their sting to keep him from succeeding in an Internet search for a partner with ties to al-Qaida.
"I do not find a single verse to support my actions in the Noble Quran," he wrote. "Every day passes by I thank Allah that I never met any real guy. If the agents had not found me, I do not know what would have happened. I thank America for saving me from utter self-destruction."
In addition to repeated expressions of remorse and grief -- including lines like, "Woe to me!" -- the five-page letter also contained an unusually candid self-portrait, as Nafis suggested that his foundering life had as much to do with his plotting as any deep ideological commitment.
He traced his problems back to being a "serious stammerer" from a young age. He said he became a friendless "loner," a "lost project" for his parents, and an easy mark when radical students at his university in Bangladesh befriended him. When he came to the United States, he said, even before learning of his girlfriend's infidelity, he had flopped as a student.
"I started to feel like someone who was physically and mentally disable to be successful," he wrote. "It is just like I could not cope up with the fast competitive world."