Bangladeshi terror suspect in US on student visa

nysepic11WASHINGTON: A Bangladeshi man with alleged links to al-Qaeda, arrested in New York on terror charges, was in the US on a student visa to attend a legitimate academic program, an American official said today.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was arrested after an FBI undercover operation foiled his plot to detonate a 1,000-pound bomb and blow up the city’s Federal Reserve Building.

“The suspect did have a student visa to attend a legitimate academic program in the United States, for which he was qualified,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.

Noting that visa decisions are made in accordance with applicable law and regulations of the State Department, Nuland said each case is looked at on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the information contained in the US Government databases, and in consultation with other government agencies.

“This includes the database that we maintain, known as Consular Lookout and Support System, or the CLASS system, which contains records on those who may be inadmissible into the United States. The majority of entries into the CLASS system come from other agencies, and they also include fingerprint records checked against the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI’s databases,” she said.

Nuland, however, did not say if this issue would result in increased scrutiny of students visa applications from these countries. “We regularly and consistently update our visa adjudication system, including with regard to how we look at particular cases in particular countries based on new tactics and techniques that terrorists are trying to use to circumvent US law,” she said.

Nafis was issued F1 visa in December 2011, another State Department official said on condition of anonymity. In fact he was one of the 1,136 F1 visas issued by the State Department from Bangladesh in the 2011 when in all 476,000 F student visas were issues worldwide. According to officials familiar with the issue, while the Department of State handles complaints from foreign embassies regarding a lack of notification, consular notification is the responsibility of the local jurisdictions.

In this case, a request for consular access would be made directly to the Department of Justice, the official said.

“The Embassy of Bangladesh has not requested assistance from the Department of State in this matter,” the official said. -PTI

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