A Bangladeshi man accused of trying to bomb the Federal Reserve building in New York City is a banker's son from a middle class neighborhood whose family members said Thursday that they were stunned by his arrest.
The FBI arrested 21-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis on Wednesday after he tried to detonate a fake 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.
His family said Thursday that Nafis was incapable of such actions.
"My son can't do it," his father, Quazi Ahsanullah, said as he wept in his home in the Jatrabari neighborhood in north Dhaka.
"He is very gentle and devoted to his studies," he said, pointing to Nafis' time 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. He called on the government to "get my son back home."
A criminal complaint accuses Nafis of having overseas connections to Al Qaeda and travelling to the U.S. in January to recruit individuals to form a terrorist cell and conduct an attack on American soil. He came under the guise of going to school in Missouri on a student visa. One of Nafis' potential recruits was an FBI source, who alerted authorities, the FBI said.
A federal law enforcement official told Fox News that there was no evidence Nafis was directed by Al Qaeda to carry out this attack, though he appears to have thought he was working for the terrorist group.
Authorities had the suspect under constant video surveillance and watched him in a room with big screen televisions in an operations center in the city.
At one point, according to criminal complaint, Nafis told undercover agents: "I don't want something that's like, small. I just want something big. Something very big ... that will shake the whole country, that will make America, not one step ahead, change of policy, and make one step ahead, for the Muslims ... that will make us one step closer to run the whole world."
A U.S. official told Fox News that President Obama was Nafis' first target, but the criminal complaint only refers to "a high-ranking official." The complaint also mentions the New York Stock Exchange as a proposed target.
Bangladesh does not have the same record of involvement in global terror 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report