Investigators said in court papers that he came to the U.S. bent on jihad and worked out the specifics of a plot when he arrived. While Nafis believed he had the blessing of al-Qaida and was acting on behalf of the terrorist group, he has no known ties, according to federal officials.
Nafis, who at the time of his arrest Wednesday was working as a busboy at a restaurant in Manhattan, was jailed without bail. His attorney has not commented on the case, but in other instances where undercover agents and sting operations were used, lawyers have argued entrapment.
Investigators would not say exactly how he initially contacted the government informant.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, whose department had a role in the arrest as a member of a joint federal-state terrorism task force, said the entrapment argument rarely prevails.
“You have to be otherwise not disposed to do a crime,” Kelly said. “And if it’s your intent to do a crime, and somehow there are means made available, then generally speaking, the entrapment defense does not succeed.”
Nafis’ family in Dhaka, Bangladesh, denied he could have been involved — he was incapable of such actions and came to America to study, not to carry out an attack, his parents said. His father, a banker, said Nafis was so timid he couldn’t venture out onto the roof alone.
“My son couldn’t have done it,” Quazi Ahsanullah said, weeping.
“He is very gentle and devoted to his studies,” he said, pointing to Nafis’ time studying at the private North South University in Dhaka.
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 stopped coming to school, Ahmed said.