A Bangladeshi man accused of travelling to the United States to wage jihad was arrested in an elaborate FBI sting after attempting to blow up a fake car bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in New York, authorities have said.
Before trying to carry out the alleged terrorism plot, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis went to a warehouse to help assemble a 1,000lb bomb using inert material, according to a criminal complaint.
He also asked an undercover agent to video him saying "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom", the complaint said.
Agents grabbed the 21-year-old Nafis - armed with a mobile phone he believed was rigged as a detonator - after he made several attempts to blow up the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve in Manhattan, the complaint said.
Authorities emphasised that the plot did not pose a real risk. However, they claimed the case demonstrated the value of using sting operations to neutralise young extremists eager to harm Americans.
"Attempting to destroy a landmark building and kill or maim untold numbers of innocent bystanders is about as serious as the imagination can conjure," said Mary Galligan, acting head of the FBI's New York office. "The defendant faces appropriately severe consequences."
Nafis appeared in federal court in Brooklyn to face charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaida. Wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans, he was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea.
The defendant had sought assurances from an undercover agent posing as an al Qaida contact that the terrorist group would support the operation.
"The thing that I want to do, ask you about, is that, the thing I'm doing, it's under al Qaida?" he was recorded saying during a meeting in a bugged hotel room in Queens, according to the complaint.
In a September meeting in the same hotel room, Nafis "confirmed he was ready to kill himself during the course of the attack, but indicated he wanted to return to Bangladesh to see his family one last time to set his affairs in order", the complaint said.