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'A trap': Parents of suspect in N.Y. bomb plot say he was set up

October 18, 2012|By Michael Muskal

The middle-class family of the man accused of attempting to blow up the Federal Reserve building in New York doesn’t believe that he could have plotted the terrorist act and says he is the victim of an American plot.

Speaking to reporters in his home in the Jatrabari neighborhood in north Dhaka, Bangladesh, Quazi Ahsanullah said his son, arrested in New York, was incapable of carrying out a terrorist plot.

“My son can't do it,” he said, weeping, according to several media reports. “He is very gentle and devoted to his studies.”

On Wednesday, authorities arrested Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, armed with a cellphone they said the 21-year-old believed was rigged as a detonator. He made several attempts to blow up a fake 1,000-pound bomb inside a vehicle parked next to the Federal Reserve building in lower Manhattan, according to a criminal complaint filed with the federal court. Authorities said Nafis acted out of admiration for Al Qaeda and its slain leader Osama bin Laden.

Nafis appeared in court in Brooklyn and faced charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group Al Qaeda. Wearing a brown T-shirt and black jeans, he was ordered held without bail and did not enter a plea.

According to the complaint, Nafis, who entered the United States on a student visa, met with an undercover agent posing as a terrorist. Nafis said he chose the Federal Reserve as his target because it would cause a large number of civilian casualties, including women and children, according to the complaint.

But that vision of a committed jihadist seeking widespread terror was sharply at odds with the son that Quazi Ahsanullah said he knew. The boy was too timid to venture onto the roof of the family home alone. “He used to take someone to go to the roof at night. I can't believe he could be part of” any plot.

“This is nothing but a conspiracy. There is still a racist conspiracy there,” the father, a senior vice president of a private bank, told reporters. He said he spent all of his savings to send the boy to America to study.

 “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?”

Nafis had been a business student at North South University, a prestigious private institution in Bangladesh, before leaving to study computer science in the United States.

“He fell into trap,” Ahsanullah insisted to reporters.  “We talked with him 24 hours before he was arrested.” He said he had called on the government of Bangladesh to “get my son back home.”

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