The Federal Reserve Building in Lower Manhatt
The Federal Reserve Building in Lower ManhattAFP/File

A Bangladeshi man with alleged links to the Al-Qaeda terror group was arrested on Wednesday in New York on charges of trying to use a 1,000 pound bomb to destroy the city's Federal Reserve building, AFP reported.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was arrested in Manhattan after he tried to detonate what he thought was a live bomb, but was actually a dummy provided in a sting operation, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said.

Nafis traveled to the United States in January 2012 "for the purpose of conducting a terrorist attack on U.S. soil," the federal prosecutor's office in Brooklyn said in a statement.

"Nafis, who reported having overseas connections to al-Qaeda, attempted to recruit individuals to form a terrorist cell inside the United States," the prosecutor's office said in the statement quoted by AFP.

"Nafis also actively sought out Al-Qaeda contacts within the United States to assist him in carrying out an attack. Unbeknownst to Nafis, one of the individuals he attempted to recruit was actually a source for the FBI."

He allegedly wrote a statement claiming responsibility for his planned attack, in which he said he wanted to "destroy America" and referred to Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as "beloved."

He has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to support Al-Qaeda, said the report.

FBI acting assistant director Mary Galligan said the attempt to "destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure."

She noted the suspect never posed an immediate risk because two people he thought were his accomplices "were actually an FBI source and an FBI undercover agent."

The Federal Reserve building, part of the network that makes up the U.S. central bank, houses one of the world's largest gold deposits.

The criminal complaint alleges that Nafis had proposed several other possible targets, including the nearby New York Stock Exchange and an unnamed high-ranking U.S. official.

The actual plot appeared to go forward smoothly for the alleged bomber, since every step of the way he was being helped by the undercover agents.

Early Wednesday, Nafis and an agent went by van to a warehouse in New York, prosecutors said, and the defendant said he was ready to do a suicide attack if his initial plan was thwarted.

He then assembled the bomb inside the van with phony explosives taken from the warehouse, the complaint says.

The agent and Nafis then drove to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, with Nafis finishing preparations to the fake bomb, while measures were taken among law enforcement bodies to make sure the vehicle was not stopped prematurely.

Once at the bank, Nafis recorded a "video statement to the American public" in which he allegedly said, "'We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.'"

Only then Nafis discovered that his alleged bomb was a dud.

"Nafis then repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to detonate the bomb, which had been assembled using the inert explosives provided by the undercover agent," prosecutors said. He was arrested.