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On October 17, 2012, a Bangladeshi national, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Manhattan.

A press release from the Department of Justice and a U.S. attorney's office announced that Nafis, who had planned the attack in concert with an undercover FBI agent whom he believed was an al-Qaeda facilitator, would be charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.

Nafis' choice of target, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, resonates with an existing jihadist focus on attacking symbols of American economic power. The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has been identified by jihadists as an American institution that wields great influence on the stability of the American economy, and by extension, on the United States' capacity for international military and economic clout. Thus, the Federal Reserve System has been listed as a valuable target for jihadists and presented alongside targets whose destruction may facilitate the collapse of the United States.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was suggested as a target in a 38-page strategic study that was released jihadist forums on September 8, 2011. The study, titled “The Great Destruction: How Did Sheikh Usama bin Laden, may Allah have Mercy on Him, Hit the American Economy in a Deadly Spot, and How Can Sheikh Zawahiri Finish It,” portrayed the US as weak economically and on the verge of bankruptcy after losing its AAA credit rating and constantly facing budget debacles. The author, “Gharib al-Ikhwan,” argued that America’s military power is dependent upon its economy, and encouraged al-Qaeda to attack economic targets and other targets that will weaken the US Dollar. To that end, he gave 23 recommendations to weaken the dollar, among them the suggestion to engage in operations that will raise the price of gold internationally. On this point, the document noted that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York houses elements of the American reserves, stating:

“[suggestion] 14. Carry out well-studied operations that aim at raising the price of gold, like seizing the gold reserve of a belligerent country (gold reserve in American is in the lower levels of storage facilities beneath the New York branch of the American Federal Reserve, which very close to Wall Street in Manhattan, New York).”

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{Gold displayed at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York}

A second strategic guide encouraging attacks on the American Federal Reserve System was posted to jihadist forums on May 14, 2011, shortly after the Navy SEAL operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden. The message, titled “Advice and Guidance to the Striking Lions on the Land of the Enemy, America,” advocated punishing the United States for their alleged campaign against Muslims by striking elements within six groupings of infrastructure and economic targets that were selected to undermine American stability. Among the targets whose loss the author believed would result in American paralysis, the essay listed:

“Targeting the American reserve banks, money centers and major banks, as opposed to the smaller ones.”

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{Federal Reserve Bank of New York}

More recently, posters on an English-language jihadist forum listed the Federal Reserve System as "the greatest weapon of jews" during a discussion thread soliciting Jewish-affiliated companies for jihadists to boycott. Posting on a March 19, 2012, discussion thread, titled “BOYCOTT JEWISH PRODUCTS....Want a list of major Jewish companies/products!,” a jihadist expressed the view that:

“Akhi [brother] you are right that jews are controlling world economy but few people know how?

"Federal reserve bank is the greatest weopon [sic] of jews which is a jews controlled private bank and print dollar secretly to fund jewish corporation, bank and friendly government.”

Prominent individuals associated with the Federal Reserve, such as Chairman Ben Bernanke, are also listed among targets of jihadist ire. For example, inspired by an al-Qaeda video encouraging individual jihad, titled “You Are Only Responsible for Yourself” and released to jihadist forums on June 2, 2011, members of a prominent jihadist forum brainstormed potential targets for lone-wolf attacks. During an online “workshop” that began on June 5, 2011, in order to collect names and other information about groups and individuals in government, industry and media whom they feel are the driving force behind the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a jihadist listed Ben Bernanke along with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

In conclusion, the American Federal Reserve System, and major Reserve banks, are identified by jihadists as both symbolically and materially important targets for operations. The Federal Reserve has been presented alongside other elements of American economic might, reflecting a jihadist belief that the United States stands on a fragile economic precipice that jihadists will benefit from destabilizing.

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