(CBS News) The 21-year-old Bangladeshi student arrested earlier this week for plotting to set off a car bomb outside New York's Federal Reserve Bank directed undercover FBI agents in the construction of a 1,000-lb. "bomb."
Veteran prosecutor Loretta Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, told senior correspondent John Miller that Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis came to the United States already planning to explode a bomb, and had hoped to recruit others in his plan.
"This case means that there's still a concerted effort by al Qaeda to insert individuals into the U.S. who will carry out their plan to disrupt the economy and to do great destruction and damage," Lynch said on "CBS This Morning: Saturday," "individuals who essentially are not necessarily tied to a larger group but come here looking to recruit other people who share the same views, and look for targets and carry out acts of destruction."
In court papers the defendant is quoted as saying before he ever got here he was part of a network of al Qaeda contacts overseas.
Miller asked if that was bluster.
"The investigation is continuing on a lot of fronts," replied Lynch. "What is clear is that when he arrived here he had already conceived of the plan to construct a bomb of some sort and of large magnitude and to effect great destruction. What's also clear is that he had already conceived of the plan to come here and recruit others already in the U.S. to join him and that's what he set about doing."
Miller said that, while some terror plotters caught in sting operations may never have had the capability without undercover agents supplying (fake) materials, Nafis appears to have actively directed the plot.
"If you go carefully through the case, it was the suspect that directed the purchase of the materials, how much to buy, what type," he said. "He came with his own recipe for this bomb. And as they built this 1,000-pound device out in a warehouse in Long Island, he was directing them how to build it."
Co-host Anthony Mason asked how Nafis was able to drive his truck bomb through so many checkpoints in New York's Financial District.
Miller said the "Ring of steel" around Wall Street is very hard to penetrate. "Anticipating that, it was like an episode of 24.' They had to get people from the terrorist task force with all the checkpoints, talking to the surveillance teams, following the truck to make sure - not that the truck didn't get through to the target, [but] to make sure whatever checkpoint it approached the truck DID get past it and didn't get stopped.
"So it was part of a really elaborate surveillance exercise to make sure he got to his target."