The father of a Bangladeshi man arrested on suspicion of plotting to blow up the U.S. Federal Reserve building in New York City has denied his son was involved.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis appeared in federal court Wednesday after he was arrested in lower Manhattan on suspicion that he planned to detonate a van with explosives on an al-Qaida-inspired suicide mission. Officials say he was arrested in a sting operation and that there were no other suspects involved.
Nafis was ordered held without bail.
His father, Quazi Mohammad Ahsanullah, said Thursday that his son was not a religious extremist and could not have been involved in the terror plot.
Reuters news agency quoted him as saying that his son’s arrest was part of a “racist conspiracy.”
Ahsanullah is a vice president of National Bank, Bangladesh’s largest private sector bank.
The chief of the New York City Police Department, Ray Kelly, told reporters Wednesday that Nafis came to the United States in January with the specific intent to commit a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. He said the suspect was inspired by al-Qaida and that once in the United States he attempted to recruit accomplices.
At his request, undercover federal agents supplied Nafis with 20 bags of purported explosives. Officials said that earlier Wednesday, Nafis went to a warehouse to assemble a 450-kilogram bomb from the material in the bags. He then allegedly parked the van near the Federal Reserve building and tried to detonate what he thought were explosives in the vehicle.
Officials say Nafis was closely monitored and there was never any danger to the public.
The Department of Justice issued a statement saying Nafis faces charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida.
Officials say that before the attempted attack, Nafis recorded a video statement saying: “We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom.”