Federal agents and detectives arrested a man who allegedly tried to blow up a van outside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Wednesday morning, authorities said.
The man, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, a Bangladeshi national who lives in Queens, parked a van full of what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb outside the Fed building on Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan -- just blocks from the World Trade Center site -- Wednesday morning and set off a cell phone detonator, according to the Department of Justice.
But the van did not blow up because the so-called explosives were not real and were provided by an undercover FBI agent, the DOJ said.
"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure," Acting Assistant Director Mary Galligan said in a statement. "The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences. 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."
The suspect and the agent had been planning the attack for months, the DOJ said. Agents with the Joint Terrorism task Force closely monitored Nafis and the plot.
Nafis came to the United States in January 2012 to recruit people to form a terrorist cell and to carry out an attack on U.S. soil, the DOJ said. He claimed to have ties to al-Qaeda and sought out al-Qadea contacts in America to help him plan the attack, authorities said.
He wrote a statement that he intended to release after the attack to claim responsibility, authorities said. In the statement, Nafis wrote that he wanted to "destroy America" by targeting its economy, the DOJ said. He also quoted from Osama bin Laden in justifying what he assumed with be the killing of women and children, federal officials said.
Authorities charged Nafis with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda Authorities said the public was never in any danger.