Bangladeshi Suspect in US Custody Voiced Support for Islamic State: Officials

BenarNews staff
2016.10.04
Washington
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161004-BD-funeral-1000.jpg Pallbearers carry the casket of Yvette Velasco, one of the victims of a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., during her funeral in Covina, Calif., Dec. 10, 2015.
AFP

A Bangladeshi arrested in the United States on suspicion of plotting to kill an American serviceman on behalf of Islamic State used social media to voice pro-IS views and his wish to die “as a martyr,” according to court papers.

In Dhaka on Tuesday, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the government had not yet been notified about the Bangladeshi citizen’s arrest in the U.S., but that it would cooperate with the American investigation into the case.

“I am so sorry to hear the news. The involvement of this Bangladeshi in terrorism will stigmatize the Bangladeshis living in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” the home minister told BenarNews.

In messages posted on Twitter, Bangladeshi Nelash Mohamed Das expressed his support for Islamic State as well as IS-linked or inspired terrorist attacks carried out late last year in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., according to an affidavit released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

“Sitting on twitter is not enough I envy seeing brothers getting shahada n slaying kuffar while im at home not getting any action,” Das, a Bangladesh citizen living in Hyattsville, Md., said in a tweet dated Sept. 28, 2015, according to court papers.

The affidavit did not mention any direct link between Das and suspected Islamic militants groups in Bangladesh, where Islamic State claimed a deadly terrorist attack that killed 20 hostages at a café in Dhaka three months ago.

According to an FBI special agent cited in court papers, shahada “translates roughly to ‘dying as a martyr’” and “‘khuffar’ translates to ‘infidels’ or ‘disbelievers.’”

“In this tweet, Das is saying that he envies those associated with ISIL, who are killing those who do not believe in his form of Islam,” the affidavit said, referring to IS by another acronym.

‘My goal in life’

The DOJ announced Monday it had arrested and charged Das, 24, a legal permanent resident who has been living in the U.S. since 1995, with attempting to provide material support and resources to IS in connection with a plot to kill a member of the U.S. military.

“Nelash Mohamed Das is alleged to have plotted to kill a U.S. service member on behalf of ISIL,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Carlin said in a statement. “Individuals intent on carrying out violence in the name of foreign terrorist organizations pose one of the most concerning threats that law enforcement faces today and stopping these offenders before they are able to act is our highest priority.”

Das, who faces a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, undertook small-arms weapons training, registered his fingerprints for a gun permit, practiced at a local gun range, and bought ammunition at a gun store in Virginia, the affidavit said.

Through a confidential FBI informant who helped him acquire weapons that that had been rendered inert by the agency, authorities arrested Das in a sting in Maryland on Friday during what appeared to be the final stage of his plan to kill a member of the military.

On Sept. 11, 2016, Das allegedly told the informant that he was fully committed to conducting the attack and “that’s like my goal in life.”

“The FBI has a very difficult task, to make sure on the one hand, we don’t violate people’s constitutional rights. We want to respect their right to free speech. On the other hand, if somebody really does have a predisposition to go through with a terrorist attack, we need to make sure that we intervene early enough to prevent that from happening,” Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the district of Maryland, told WBAL TV in Baltimore.

A federal magistrate judge ordered that Das be kept in custody until Thursday when he is to appear for a detention hearing at U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Md., according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

An assistant federal public defender who was appointed to represent Das could not be reached for comment.

Kamran Reza Chowdhury in Dhaka contributed to this report.

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