Bangladesh quizzes family of alleged U.S. bomb plotter

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladeshi security agents have questioned the family of a man accused of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to find out if he has any link to militants, the country's foreign minister said on Friday.

Bangladeshi national Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, was arrested on Wednesday in New York and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.

Nafis' father told reporters in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka a day later his son, who was studying in the United States, was innocent and the victim of a "racist conspiracy".

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said the authorities were trying to find out whether there were any grounds to the accusations against Nafis.

"Bangladesh intelligence visited the residence of Nafis in Dhaka on Thursday night and interrogated his parents and closest relatives to find out details of his life pattern in Bangladesh," she told a news conference.

"The relevant government agencies of Bangladesh have been enquiring about Nafis's activities in Bangladesh, whether he had any link with any terrorist activities and activists," she said.

The authorities would do all they could to help Nafis if they concluded he was not guilty, the minister added.

The criminal complaint against Nafis said he had travelled by van with a man to a New York warehouse where Nafis assembled what he thought was a 1,000-pound (450-kg) bomb.

The man he believed to be an accomplice was in fact an undercover agent working for the FBI and the explosives were not in working condition, according to the complaint.

One of Nafis's relatives, Sharif Akhunji, said the family knew he had moved from Missouri, where he was studying in college, to New York, but that had been for academic reasons, to take courses at another institution.

"Yes, we were aware of his movements," he told reporters. "He stayed there at the home of one of our relatives. Everything was transparent. There is nothing to hide."

(Editing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Updated Date: Oct 20, 2012 00:00 AM

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