A Banglasdeshi man who allegedly came to the US to wage jihad has been arrested in an elaborate FBI sting after attempting to blow up a fake car bomb outside the Federal Reserve building in Manhattan, authorities say.

Before trying to carry out the alleged terrorism plot, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis went to a warehouse to help assemble a 453kg bomb using inert material, according to agents.

He also asked an undercover agent to videotape him saying: “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.”

Agents grabbed the 21-year-old Nafis – armed with a mobile phone he believed was a detonator – after he allegedly made several attempts to blow up the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve.

Authorities emphasised that the plot never posed an actual 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 was scheduled to appear 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-Qaeda.

Prosecutors say Nafis travelled to the US in January to carry out an attack. In July, he contacted a confidential informant, telling him he wanted to form a terror cell.

In further conversations, authorities said Nafis proposed several spots for his attack, including the New York Stock Exchange – and that in a letter taking responsibility for the Federal Reserve job he was about to carry out, he said he wanted to “destroy America”. Other communications took place through Facebook.

The Federal Reserve is one of the most fortified buildings in New York.

Modelled after London’s “ring of steel”, New York police use sophisticated programs that can search for suspicious activity, like an object in one place for a long time.

The analytic software is designed to take video and catalogue it according to movements, shapes and colours, so officers can set parameters to search the system for, say, a suspicious van.

The case is the latest where a terrorism plot turned out to be a sting operation.

Four men were convicted in 2009 in a plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down military planes with missiles – a case that began after an FBI informant was assigned to infiltrate a mosque. The federal judge hearing that case said she was not proud of the government’s role in nurturing the plot.

In 2004, a Pakistani immigrant was arrested and convicted for a scheme to blow up the subway station at Herald Square in Midtown. His lawyers argued that their client had been set up by a police informant who showed him pictures of Iraq abuse to get him involved in an attack against civilians.

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