NEW YORK (CNN) – Federal authorities running a sting operation arrested a 21-year-old Bangladeshi national with alleged al Qaeda ties who was planning to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with what he believed was a 1,000-pound bomb, officials said Wednesday.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was arrested after an alleged attempt to detonate the device, which had been rendered inert, according to a Justice Department statement.
Nafis had apparently traveled to the United States in January 2012 for “the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil,” and attempted to recruit members to form a terrorist cell, authorities allege.
One of the people Nafis contacted was an FBI source, to whom he proposed multiple targets, including a high-ranking U.S. official as well as the New York Stock Exchange, authorities said.
While details surrounding the suspected plot remain murky, prosecutors say Nafis indicated that he wanted to “destroy America” by going after the nation’s financial institutions and ultimately settled on the reserve bank.
The undercover agent, authorities say, also provided 20 50-pound bags of purported explosives to Nafis, who then stored the material in a warehouse in preparation for the strike.
Authorities say Nafis also divulged that he had a “Plan B” that involved carrying out a suicide attack should police thwart his initial effort.
Packing his van with what he believed were explosives, Nafis allegedly traveled with the undercover agent to the bank in New York’s financial district, attached a detonator to the material and then recorded a video statement.
“We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom,” he allegedly said just prior to his arrest.
Much of the sting operation was captured on video, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.
Nafis faces charges of “attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.”
His arrest came as a result of the “culmination of an undercover operation” after he was being monitored by the FBI New York Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the statement said.
Both the Federal Reserve and the New York Police Department declined to comment, though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was expected to address reporters later Wednesday.
CNN’s Carol Cratty contributed to this report