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 Akayed, 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.
“Only God knows what happened to him in America,” Haider said.
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US 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 Akayed claimed allegiance to the militant group, according to US 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 Akayed 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.
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“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 Akayed 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 Akayed 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.”