The father of the Bangladeshi man arrested for plotting to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank alleged on Thursday that his son is a victim of a racist conspiracy, local media reported.
Denying the allegation that his son was involved in a terror plot, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis’s father Quazi Mohammad Ahsanullah told media that his son was not involved in any activities other than studies, according to the Daily Star report.
"This is nothing but a conspiracy. There is still a racist conspiracy there," his father told reporters in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.
Nafis, 21, was arrested Wednesday on charges of plotting to bomb the Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan in an FBI sting operation. According to the criminal complaint filed against him, he has traveled to the U.S. from Bangladesh with the intention of waging jihad against America on the pretext of higher studies. The complaint also alleges that he has ties with al Qaeda.
Nafis's family were shocked by the reports of his arrest and denied any wrongdoing from his side.
"The intelligence of the USA is playing with a mere boy whom we sent for higher study. The allegation against my son is not true at all. He could not even drive a car. How was he caught with a van?" asked his father, according to a Reuters report.
Nafis was so timid, he couldn't even venture out onto the roof alone, his father said. "He used to take someone to go the roof at night. I can't believe he could be part of it (the plot)," AP reported.
Nafis’s father, who is a senior vice-principal of National Bank Limited in Dhaka said that he has asked his government’s support on the issue "so that our son will not fall victim to an arranged story."
Nafis is Ahsanullah's youngest son and his elder daughter Fariel Bilkis is a lecturer at a medical college, local media reported. "My brother may have been a victim of a conspiracy," Bilkis told AP.
Nafis's family claimed that he had called them 24 hours before his arrest and briefed them on his studies.
"He fell into trap," Ahsanullah said. "We talked with him 24 hours before he was arrested," his father told reporters.
Nafis was arrested after he allegedly assembled and attempted to detonate a 1000-pound bomb made of inert materials given to him by an undercover agent whom he believed was an al Qaeda militant. Nafis faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, the US Department of Justice said in a statement. If convicted, he faces a maximum of a life term sentence in prison.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh mission in Washington and the U.S. State Department will have a meeting on Friday to confirm Nafis' nationality, Star Online reported.
“We are yet to know his nationality. He may be a Bangladeshi citizen or US citizen or have dual citizenship,” Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said at a press briefing Friday morning.
Nafis was enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University in a cyber security curriculum which started in January and ended in May. The university said in a letter to the staff and students that they were assured by the FBI that the school was never threatened by Nafis, Reuters reported.
"We are very dismayed and concerned that a former Southeast student would be involved in an alleged act of terrorism," university President Kenneth Dobbins said on Thursday in a letter to staff and students.
A representative for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn rejected Nafis’s family's allegation that he was trapped.
"He directed all the key elements. It was all under his direction," spokesman Bob Nardoza told Reuters.
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