The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

National News

October 18, 2012

Man shocked by terror claims against ex-classmate

ST. LOUIS — A former college classmate of a Bangladeshi man accused in a foiled car bomb attack on New York City’s Federal Reserve said Thursday the allegations don’t square with the peace-talking student he befriended and routinely gave rides home from class.

Jim Dow said he was shocked to learn of 21-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis’ arrest Wednesday during an FBI terror sting in New York, just a few months after Nafis left Southeast Missouri State University after attending only the spring semester, having shared a physics class with Dow.

A law enforcement official, who talked to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation, said Nafis is believed to have initially considered targeting President Barack Obama and the New York City Stock Exchange before settling on attacking the Federal Reserve. That plot unraveled when Nafir wasn’t aware the 1,000-pound bomb he tried to detonate was bogus.

Investigators said Nafis admired Osama bin Laden and arrived in the U.S. in January on a student visa and attended Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, a 38,000-resident Mississippi River city about 100 miles south of St. Louis.

Remembering Nafis as “a little on the shy side,” Dow said Nafis seldom interacted with other students outside of the physics class they took.

“He was actually a pretty good student — he understood the topic pretty well,” Dow, 54, told the AP on Thursday.

Nafis, who Dow gave rides home twice a week, never intimated or displayed violent tendencies or thoughts, instead coming across as “real religious,” Dow said.

Since Nafis’ arrest, “what really shocked me the most was he had specifically spoken to me about true Muslims not believing in violence,” said Dow, an Army veteran who’s now a junior studying sustainable energy management. “He told me he didn’t really believe bin Laden was involved in (the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks) because he said bin Laden was a religious man, and a religious man wouldn’t have done something like that.

“I do know he thought really highly of Osama bin Laden, and that he told me he didn’t think bin Laden would have done something like that” attack on the Pentagon and New York City’s Twin Towers.

Nafis, who gave Dow a copy of the Quran and asked that he read and respect that holy book, “told me things like that Muslims believed that Jesus was a prophet the same as (Islam’s) Muhammed. And that he just he just didn’t believe Jesus’ words had been passed down correctly but Muhammed’s were,” Dow said.

Nafis “never said anything that was angry or mean. He didn’t rant or rave or say crazy stuff,” Dow said. “I liked him.”

When Dow no longer saw Nafis on the 11,700-student campus after the spring semester, he assumed Nafis returned to Bangladesh because “he talked like he was homesick.” The university said in a statement Thursday it transferred Nafis’ academic records over the summer to an unspecified Brooklyn, N.Y., institution.

Dow said he was listening to a national TV network’s news program Wednesday night while working on his computer when he heard a reference to the alleged terror plot targeting New York’s Federal Reserve, glanced up and saw a courtroom sketch of the suspect.

“It went through my head that, ‘Gee, that looks like Quazi,”’ said Dow, whose suspicions were confirmed when the report mentioned Nafis attended Southeast Missouri State, then showed a photograph of him.

“I’m shocked — I don’t know what more to say about that,” Dow added. “I didn’t just meet this kid a couple of times. We talked quite a bit, sir, and this doesn’t seem to be in character.”

Southeast Missouri State’s president, Kenneth Dobbins, wrote in a letter Thursday to the university’s faculty, staff and students that the FBI has assured him that no one at the school was in danger, and that “Southeast was never a target of terrorism.”

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Obama shows skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 17, 2014

  • Judge in gay marriage case asks pointed questions

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    April 17, 2014

  • Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

    Secret Service investigators say they are close to gaining a full understanding of the methods hackers used to breach Target’s computer systems last December.

    April 17, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban on campaign lies

    As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime.

    April 16, 2014

  • Auto Show Nissan Hot _Cast.jpg Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

    With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the U.S. auto industry.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Transportation Blues 2.jpg Congress is giving states the transportation blues

    On the road in a tour bus this week, the U.S. transportation secretary is spreading some bad news: the government’s Highway Trust Fund is nearly broke.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • Report: Russia withheld intel before Boston attack

    A yearlong review of information the U.S. intelligence community had prior to the Boston Marathon bombing found that the investigation could have been more thorough.

    April 11, 2014

  • Obama Health Secretary.jpg Obama announces Sebelius resignation, successor

    President Barack Obama praised outgoing Health and Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for helping to steer his health care law’s comeback after a rocky rollout, even as he nominated a successor aimed at helping the White House move past the political damage.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police seek driver in deadly Florida day care crash

    As mourners trickled by Thursday to honor the 4-year-old girl who was killed and 14 others injured in a crash at a Florida day care, authorities scoured the state for the driver they said fled in the vehicle that caused the fatal wreck.

    April 10, 2014

  • Stephen Colbert-Late _Cast.jpg Stephen Colbert to replace Letterman on late show

    CBS moved swiftly Thursday to replace the retiring David Letterman with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, who will take over the “Late Show” next year and do battle with Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel for late-night television supremacy.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo