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Dhaka - Accused NYC Bomber's Family Says Attack 'Our Worst Nightmare'

Published on: December 13, 2017 09:31 PM
By: Reuters
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Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old supporter of the Islamic State militant group, is seen in this courtroom sketch appearing by video for a hearing from his bed in Bellevue Hospital in New York, NY, U.S., December 13, 2017.   REUTERS/Jane RosenbergAkayed Ullah, a 27-year-old supporter of the Islamic State militant group, is seen in this courtroom sketch appearing by video for a hearing from his bed in Bellevue Hospital in New York, NY, U.S., December 13, 2017.  REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Dhaka - Zulifikar Haider hoped his daughter would live the American dream when she married a fellow Bangladeshi living in the United States, but that dream turned into a nightmare when the family saw pictures of her husband wounded after allegedly trying to set off a bomb in a crowded New York commuter hub.

Haider’s family had been worried when his son-in-law, Akayed Ullah, 27, missed a regular call to his wife on Monday. Their worry only worsened when his wife screamed as she found online pictures of Ullah, down on the ground with apparent injuries to his stomach after the bomb ignited but failed to detonate.


“Even in our worst nightmares, we could not have foreseen this,” Haider, 62, told Reuters on Wednesday evening, following two days of questioning by Bangladesh’s counterterrorism police.

Haider, a jewelry showroom accountant in Dhaka, said his family was stunned by the news that Ullah had been charged by the United States with terrorism offenses after he tried to detonate a bomb strapped to his waist in a pedestrian tunnel leading to Times Square, injuring himself and three others.

“There was never any indication he would do this. I think it’s a conspiracy. A person who keeps roza (religious fasting in Islam), reads the Koran and goes to mosque five times a day can’t do such a heinous act,” Haider said.

He recalled being elated when Ullah’s family called from the United States in December 2015 asking for the hand of his daughter, Jannatul Ferdous Jui, now 25. The couple wed in Bangladesh the following month. Jui continued to live in Bangladesh while she finished her studies and gave birth to their son, who is now 6 months old.

“We were very excited. I hoped my daughter would go to the United States, and my son-in-law would then help get my son over there,” Haider said, meeting Reuters after evening prayers in the mosque by his house in a middle-class neighborhood in central Dhaka. “What else do parents want?”


The white-bearded Haider said he could not understand how Ullah, who had lived in the United States since 2011, could have committed the attack.

“Only God knows what happened to him in America,” Haider said.

U.S. President Donald Trump reiterated his call for tougher immigration rules following Monday’s attack, which came less than two months after an Uzbek immigrant killed eight people by speeding a rental truck down a New York City bike path.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the October attack, while Ullah claimed allegiance to the militant group, according to U.S. federal prosecutors.

Haider said he feared Monday’s incident could lead to a backlash against Bangladeshis living in the United States.

Jui finished her bachelor of arts degree in accounting from a Dhaka college in March. When Ullah last came visiting in September after their son was born, they planned to get a passport for her to possibly join him in the United States sometime in 2018.

“He spent most of the time with his 6-month-old son when he came down,” said Haider. “He is not much of a social person. He does not really have friends, not into gossiping. He has never brought any friend to our house.”

Haider’s family has not been able to talk to Ullah since the failed bombing.

Bangladesh police, meanwhile, have questioned Haider as well as his wife, daughter and his 22-year-old son. Their phone call records have been scanned.

Bangladesh’s counterterrorism chief, Monirul Islam, told Reuters they have found no links of Ullah with any militant group in his home country. But the chief added that investigations were continuing and the family was under surveillance.

“I no longer want my daughter to go to America,” Haider said. “I just want our son-in-law back.”

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Read Comments (7)  —  Post Yours »


 Dec 13, 2017 at 09:39 PM Anonymous Says:

Yeah. Same story every time. The family never knows anything about their terrorist relative’s actions....


 Dec 13, 2017 at 09:45 PM Conservative Carl Says:

My bro Munch says that the attackers' family isn't guilty, but they should have enough human shame to try and avoid the press.


 Dec 13, 2017 at 10:16 PM stamnamefortrump Says:

Yeah right. They didn't stop him. They r just upset bc now they will be deported. Get rid of them all


 Dec 13, 2017 at 10:58 PM puppydogs Says:

Yup the families are the victims here. Let's all hold hands and sing Kombaya


 Dec 14, 2017 at 12:20 AM Conservative Carl Says:

Reply to #4  
puppydogs Says:

Yup the families are the victims here. Let's all hold hands and sing Kombaya

My bro Munch says that assigning the roles of victim and perpetrator is one of the grossest oversimplifications in modern society.


 Dec 14, 2017 at 05:33 AM Lieba Says:

Why, because their son didn't die in the attack, so he won't get the 72 virgins in Heaven, or because they may not get support money for all their lives, or because their son didn't kill anyone, or all the. above plus they don't want to get deported


 Dec 14, 2017 at 10:05 AM Yossy111 Says:

Why exactly would we care about his family's perspective? Just deport whoever is still here from the US. And jail the bomber for life. Done!


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