New York (CBSNew York) -- A man has been arrested by federal authorities in connection with a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, officials said.
The suspect, identified as Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, was arrested following sting-type operation with undercover agents.
Nafis, 21, is a Bangladeshi who lives in Jamaica, Queens. He is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
When he was captured Wednesday morning, Nafis was in the process of trying to detonate what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Liberty Street.
Authorities say that there was never any actual danger to the public.
READ: Criminal Complaint against Nafis (PDF)
According to authorities, Nafis traveled to the U.S. in January intending to conduct an attack. Authorities say Nafis tried to recruit people within the U.S. to help him carry out the attack.
CBS News Senior Correspondent John Miller reported Nafis was involved in an online forum with Al Qaeda sympathizers expressing a desire for an attack that would have a significant impact on the U.S. economy, Miller said. Over the forum, the suspect was introduced to a source for the FBI, who got an undercover agent involved, Miller reported.
That undercover agent posed as an al-Qaeda facilitator, authorities said, and supplied Nafis with 20 50-pound bags of purported explosive. Authorities say Nafis meticulously went about the process of purchasing the other components for a bomb, including a detonator and assembled what he believed would be a functional device.
Authorities say that Nafis proposed several targets for his attack, including a high-ranking U.S. official and the New York Stock Exchange before settling on the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
According to officials, Nadis and an undercover agent drove together in a van carrying the "device" packed with fake explosives to the bank this morning. During the trip, Nafis allegedly told the undercover operative he had a "Plan B" of acting a as a suicide bomber in case the plot was interrupted by police.
The two parked the van in front of the bank and walked to a nearby hotel, where Nafis allegedly recorded a video in which he said "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom," authorities said. Nafis then allegedly tried to blow up the bomb.
"Al Qaeda operatives and those they have inspired have tried time and again to make New York City their killing field. We are up to 15 plots and counting since 9/11 with the Federal Reserve now added to a list of iconic targets that previously included the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York Stock Exchange, and Citicorp Center," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "After 11 years without a successful attack, it's understandable if the public becomes complacent. But that's a luxury law enforcement can't afford. Vigilance is our watchword now and into the foreseeable future."
"As alleged in the complaint, the defendant came to this country intent on conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil and worked with single-minded determination to carry out his plan," said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. "The defendant thought he was striking a blow to the American economy. He thought he was directing confederates and fellow believers. At every turn, he was wrong, and his extensive efforts to strike at the heart of the nation's financial system were foiled by effective law enforcement."
"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure. The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences," said FBI Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge Mary Galligan. "It is important to emphasize that the public was never at risk in this case, because two of the defendant's 'accomplices' were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent. The FBI continues to place the highest priority on preventing acts of terrorism."