Akayed Ullah, the bomber who swore allegiance to the Islamic State and tried to attack the New York City subway system with a pipe bomb on Monday, has a wife back home in Bangladesh.
She told investigators in Bangladesh she was “surprised” by his actions and had no idea he had become radicalized, but other sources claim she was aware of his interest in radical groups because he actively attempted to recruit her as well.
Bangladeshi police spokesman Sahely Ferdous said Ullah’s wife was “surprised to find out what her husband did,” because he “never mentioned radicalization or planning these types of activities,” even though he spoke with her by phone from Brooklyn only half an hour before carrying out his attack.
“His wife didn’t know anything about this side of Akayed,” said Ferdous, as quoted by CNN.
However, the UK Daily Mail on Wednesday cited Bangladeshi officials who say Ullah did try to radicalize his wife, providing her with written material and recorded sermons from Mulana Jasimuddin Rahmani, the imprisoned leader of a violent radical group called the Ansarullah Bangla Team.
“The group has been linked to killings and attacks on secular academics and atheist bloggers in Bangladesh. Rahmani is serving time in prison for his involvement in the killings,” the Daily Mail notes. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some terrorist attacks in Bangladesh, but the government officially maintains ISIS has no significant presence in their country, so the bloodshed is all the work of local extremist organizations.
According to the Daily Mail’s Bangladeshi officials, Ullah’s wife told investigators he “discussed Rahman’s writings with her during his last visit home.”
The couple married during one of Ullah’s trips to Bangladesh in 2016. The couple has an infant son born in June.
The New York Daily News reports Ullah’s wife is named Jannatul Ferdous Jui. She was detained and questioned by Bangladeshi counterterrorism officers along with her mother Mahfusa Akhter and father Julfiqar Haidar. About a dozen of Ullah’s relatives in Bangladesh have been interrogated.
The UK Guardianconducted a phone interview with a local union official who said Akayed Ullah came to America with his father Sanaullah Mia in 2011. Mia died about a year later. Ullah’s most recent trip back to Bangladesh, in September and October of this year, was reportedly made to visit with his wife and child.
Somewhat ominously, Ullah’s cousin described his uncle Sanaullah Mia as a “freedom fighter” who “fought for the liberation of the country.” He nevertheless found it “shocking” that his cousin would launch a terrorist attack. A postman in the hometown of Akayed Ullah’s family also described his father as a “freedom fighter” to the Dhaka Tribune.
The Daily Sun clarifies that Akayed’s father fought in the “Liberation War of Bangladesh,” an uprising against Pakistan in the 1970s in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and the modern state of Bangladesh was born. Both sides of the war have made accusations of war crimes and atrocities.
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