crimesider

Family of suspect in New York Federal Reserve terror plot shocked

Bangladeshi Quazi Ahsanullah displays a photograph of his son, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, as he weeps in his home in the Jatrabari neighborhood in north Dhaka, Bangladesh, Oct. 18, 2012.
AP Photo
Bangladeshi Quazi Ahsanullah displays a photograph of his son, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, as he weeps in his home in the Jatrabari neighborhood in north Dhaka, Bangladesh, Oct. 18, 2012.
Quazi Ahsanullah displays a photograph of his son, Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, accused of plotting to blow up the Federal Reserve in New York, at Ahsanullah's home in the Jatrabari neighborhood in north Dhaka, Bangladesh, Oct. 18, 2012.
AP Photo

(CBS/AP) DHAKA, Bangladesh - A Bangladeshi man accused of trying to blow up New York's Federal Reserve building Wednesday spoke to his parents via Skype and updated them on his studies only a few hours before he was arrested, his family told The Associated Press.

The family of Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was shocked Thursday to find out that the banker's son from a middle-class Dhaka neighborhood was accused of trying to carry out a terror attack. They denied he could be involved.

"My son couldn't have done it," his father, Quazi Ahsanullah, said weeping. Fariel Bilkis said his brother may have been the victim of a conspiracy.

The FBI arrested the 21-year-old Nafis, a Bangladeshi, on Wednesday after he tried to detonate a 1,000 pound car bomb, according to a criminal complaint.

Prosecutors said Nafis traveled to the U.S. on a student visa in January to carry out an attack.

Nafis' family said he was incapable of such actions and he went to America to study business administration, not to carry out any attack.

"He is very gentle and devoted to studies," he said, pointing to Nafis' time studying at the private North South University in Dhaka.

However, Belal Ahmed, a spokesman for the university, said Nafis was a terrible student who was put on probation and threatened with expulsion if he didn't bring his grades up. Nafis eventually just stopped coming to school, Ahmed said.

Ahsanullah said his son convinced him to send him to America to study, arguing that with a U.S. degree he had a better chance at success in Bangladesh.

"I spent all my savings to send him to America," he said.

Nafis attended Southeast Missouri State University during the spring semester, which ended in May, in pursuit of a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity, university spokeswoman Ann Hayes said. He requested a transfer of his records in July and the university complied, Hayes said, though she couldn't say where the records were sent.

Just a few hours before his arrest, Nafis talked to his mother over Skype to update her on his plans, Bilkis said.

"My brother told my mother that he was doing well in studies in the U.S. and was transferring to a college in New York," said his sister.

Early Thursday, a relative living in Switzerland called to tell the family Nafis had been arrested.

"We woke up with this terrible news. We just can't believe it," she said.

Ahsanullah called on the government to "get my son back home."

Bangladesh does not have the same record of involvement in global terrorism as Pakistan, with which it once formed a nation before winning its independence in 1971. At least one Bangladeshi was among those detained by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Complete coverage of the alleged Federal Reserve terror plot on CBS News