NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Bangladesh says its diplomats will meet with U.S. officials to learn more about a Bangladeshi man held on charges of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve building in New York City.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni says Bangladesh diplomats in the U.S. will meet State Department officials Saturday in Washington.
“This is a sensitive issue,” Moni told reporters. “We don’t want to speculate on it.”
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was arrested Wednesday in an FBI sting operation. A criminal complaint said he made several attempts to blow up a fake 1,000-pound the bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve.
The arrest of the 21-year-old has stunned his family in Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. They said he could not have committed the alleged crimes.
“My son can’t do it,” said Quazi Ahsanullah, Nafis’ father. ”He is very gentle and devoted to his studies.”
His family said Thursday Nafis was a victim of a “racist conspiracy.”
“It’s simply not possible,” said Nafis’ sister, Dr. Faria Bilkis. “We don’t think it can be done by him. He must be victimized, because in Bangladesh, he was not like this. He was a good boy.”
The arrest made headlines in Dhaka newspapers and caused Bangladeshis to worry it would hurt their country’s image as a moderate Muslim nation.
“I don’t know if this kid is actually involved in the plot, but the incident does not help our image abroad,” said Harun Rashid, a resident in Dhaka.
Ahsanullah called on the Bangladesh government to intervene and bring his son back to the country.
Federal authorities said Nafis came to the U.S. from Bangladesh on a student visa in January.
He attended Southeast Missouri State University during the spring semester, which ended in May, in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in cyber security, university spokeswoman Ann Hayes said.
Nafis then moved to New York to attend ASA college in Manhattan and study English and computer technology and moved into an apartment in Queens. His transfer application was approved in July and his student visa papers never raised any red flags.
Federal investigators said the 21-year-old Nafis made the first move over the summer, reaching out for accomplices and eventually contacting a government informant, who then went to federal authorities.
According to the indictment, Nafis picked the New York Stock Exchange as a possible target in August and asked the informant for assurance that the attack would be on behalf of al Qaeda.
Ultimately, Nafis decided that location was too secure and eventually settled on a plot to blow up the Federal Reserve, the complaint said.
Wednesday morning, federal officials said he and an undercover agent drove a truck filled with inoperable explosives to lower Manhattan and parked it outside the Federal Reserve.
The pair then walked to a nearby hotel to watch the explosion, recording a video Nafis planned to release in the aftermath of the attack, the complaint said.
Agents arrested Nafis in his hotel room after he tried to set off the bomb using a cellphone he thought had been rigged as a detonator, authorities said.
Nafis, who at the time of his arrest was working as a busboy at a restaurant in Manhattan, is being held without bail and faces life in prison in convicted.
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