Tag Archives: quazi nafis

Terrorist plot may affect student visa program

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

The foiled terrorist plot to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Bank by a Bangladeshi national, living in Queens under a student visa, could extinguish the opportunity for future foreign students to attend school in the United States.

Senator Charles Schumer called for the immediate passage of legislation increasing the oversight of student visa programs following the discovery that alleged bombing suspect Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis entered the United States with a student visa in order to attended classes at Manhattan’s ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology.

This year, more than 850,000 active foreign students were in the United States.

An investigation headed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that “sham universities” have provided foreigners entry into the country without conducting thorough personal investigations. According to Schumer, early in 2012, Tri-Valley University in California was dismantled for selling student visas to 1,500 foreign nationals.

The school Nafis attended, Manhattan’s ASA Institute of Business and Computer Technology, is an accredited institution.

Schumer also pushed for investigations by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General to determine if Nafis’ request for a visa should have been denied.

“This foiled attack must serve as a wake-up call. We need to shut down gaping loopholes allowing foreign nationals, some of whom may wish to do us harm, from entering the country through the student visa program,” said Schumer. “While the facts of this particular case are still coming to light, we do know that thousands of people have entered this country through sham universities like hand out student visas like candy, and that practice must end now.”

Under the Student Visa Integrity Act, providing false information to obtain a student visa means a mandatory two-year sentence; reasonable suspicion of fraud could expel a student from the program. The legislation also limits student visas to students attending accredited schools and prohibits any flight school that is not FAA-accredited from bringing in foreign students.

But excessive red tape can make it difficult for legitimate foreign students to study in the United States. Syracuse University student Andreacarola Urso applied for her student visa in June of 2012 in order to attend school in the United States. The 19-year-old from Naples, Italy, described the application process as lengthy, adding that the agency required her to prepare numerous documents proving she was financially stable, unmarried, maintained a permanent residence in her home country and was, in fact, legitimately Italian.

Urso’s student visa application fees amounted to $400.

The pre-med student said that while she was required to obtain an excessive number of forms for her meeting at the United States embassy in Italy, they were barely even skimmed.

“I thought the meeting would’ve been tougher, but in the end it was not,” said Urso. “I prepared all of those documents as I was told to, but they didn’t even look at them.”

Urso said the bomb plot could make it more difficult for students from other countries to obtain visas to attend school in the United States. While she believes it is ethical for officials to request documentation and perform background checks, she knows many people who were refused a visa because they seemed doubtful during their interview with the embassy.

“I think [parts of the screening process] are ridiculous,” said Urso. “It changes people’s futures since we apply a year earlier and get accepted to a university and then they refuse our visa. It’s disappointing. Obviously it’s not my case, but it is still a common problem.”

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Friday: Showers and possibly a thunderstorm. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. High near 73. Southeast wind 10 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between 1 and 2 inches possible. Friday night: Scattered showers, mainly before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 60. South wind 5 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

EVENT of the DAY: Job Fair

There will be a Halloween themed family sleepover this weekend at the Long Island Aquarium. At the Creatures of the Night Spooktacular, kids will get rare glimpse into the nighttime habits of three new animals in the Creatures of the Night exhibit. You can also dress up in Halloween customes, and enjoy craft time and a screening of “Monster House.” Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Neighbor of Federal Reserve bomb suspect speaks

The day after a Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed to be a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, a neighbor spoke out, saying he had no idea what was being plotted, just downstairs. Read more: Queens Courier

Tigers sweep Yankees in ALCS to reach World Series

Prince Fielder waved his arms frantically, gleefully calling off his teammates while the crowd at Comerica Park roared. From the moment the big first baseman signed his massive contract in January, an entire city had been waiting for a chance to celebrate like this. After another dazzling effort by Detroit’s starting pitchers and another soaring home run by Miguel Cabrera, Fielder caught the final out to send the Tigers to the World Series — with a sweep of the New York Yankees, no less. Read more: ESPN

Nassau officer killed on LIE while responding to collision

A Nassau County cop who responded to an accident on the Long Island Expressway was killed early today when he was struck by another vehicle passing the scene of the crash, sources said. Officer Joseph P. Olivieri, 43, was struck at 4:43 a.m. on the eastbound roadway near exit 35 in North Hills. Read more: NY Post

Comedic relief: Obama, Romney bring on the jokes at annual dinner

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were within arm’s length for the second time this week, as they shared the stage at the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner Thursday and delivered feisty quips at each other’s expense. Read more: CNN

Queens man put on “No-Fly List” stranded in Austria

A 26-year-old Queens man was returning home from a trip to Austria when he was stopped at the airport and told by airline agents that the Department of Homeland Security had prohibited his travel. For over two weeks Samir Suljovic, of Oakland Gardens, has remained stranded in Austria, where he was on vacation visiting friends and family. Read more: NBC New York

Queens judge denies perv’s request to lower jail sentence to spend Christmas with family

A Queens judge slammed a pervert’s request to lower his jail sentence to be with his four children for Christmas. Oross, 45 of East Islip, LI, plead guilty in September to having repeated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old student in a Susan B. Anthony IS 238 classroom and in his car, more than a dozen times in 2009. Read more: NY Post


Neighbor of Federal Reserve bomb suspect speaks

| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The day after a Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed to be a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in lower Manhattan, a neighbor spoke out, saying he had no idea what was being plotted, just downstairs.

Photo Twitter/@eyewitnessnyc

The FBI said that Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Jamaica, traveled to the U.S. this January specifically to take part in a terrorist attack, and unknowingly enlisted the help of an undercover agent.

At first glance, neighbors say, Nafis was said to be harmless, and those who know him are shocked to hear the news.

“He’s a good looking guy, a very young kid,” said Nafis’ upstairs neighbor, Mohammad Chowdhery. “I feel really shocked.”

Nafis was reportedly considering the Federal Reserve Bank and several other targets for his attack, but settled on the bank because it was what he believed to be the most effective way to “destroy America” — by targeting the economy, according to the FBI.

The Bangladeshi national, who allegedly has overseas connections to Al-Qaeda, tried to recruit individuals to help him in his attack, and one of those was an FBI source.

The undercover agent gave Nafis non-working explosives, and later met him on the morning of Wednesday, October 17 and witnessed Nafis assembling the bomb. The two drove together to the Federal Reserve, and after Nafis unsuccessfully tried to detonate the bomb, he was arrested by authorities.

“You never know if he was practicing those things here,” said Chowdhery of their 93rd Avenue home. “If you see someone, you can’t realize what type of person they are.”

Nafis resided in a second-floor apartment with relatives, including Shamim Khan, his wife, their two-and-a- half year old daughter, and grandparents, according to Chowdhery.

After word of the alleged attempt leaked, Chowdhery tried to contact Khan, but got no response. He saw Khan when he got home from work on Wednesday, and said he looked distraught but said nothing.

Nafis was arraigned in Brooklyn Federal Court on Wednesday afternoon, and has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Al-Qaeda. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

With additional reporting by Cristabelle Tumola

Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 68. South wind 6 to 11 mph. Thursday night: Showers likely, mainly after 2am. Increasing clouds, with a low around 59. Southeast wind 8 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

EVENT of the DAY: Screening of “Manos: The Hands of Fate”

Devil Science Theater 3000 is an interactive event where the audience plays drinking games and makes fun of terrible movies while being egged on by professional comedians in the crowd. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens man arrested for Federal Reserve bomb plot

A Queens man was arrested for allegedly attempting to detonate what he believed was a real bomb at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Lower Manhattan this morning, said the FBI. Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Jamaica, traveled to the U.S. this January specifically to take part in a terrorist attack, said the agency. Read more: Queens Courier

Game 4 of ALCS between Yanks, Tigers postponed due to threat of rain

For the second straight year, the weather has intruded on a New York Yankees-Detroit Tigers playoff game. And for the second straight year, Yankees ace CC Sabathia is the player most affected by it. Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the AL Championship Series was delayed for about 1 hour, 10 minutes because of anticipated storms in the area, which had not arrived when the game was officially called off but did come later Wednesday night. Read more: ESPN

‘Beyonce’ rooms for affluent new moms at Lenox Hill Hospital are putting newborns at risk: nurses

Affluent new moms are getting a suite deal at Lenox Hill Hospital: Posh $1,700-a-night, full-service “Beyoncé” rooms staffed at the expense of less fortunate city mothers, veteran nurses charge. The executive suites, including the one where the mega-star delivered baby Blue Ivy in January, receive nearly one-on-one nursing care. Two floors above, up to 18 newborns are sometimes tended by a single nurse. Read more: Daily News

Police officer killed in crash on LIE

A deadly crash on the eastbound Long Island Expressway Thursday morning has forced the closure of all eastbound lanes near Exit 34/New Hyde Park Road. A Nassau County Police Officer was killed in the collision at about 4:45 a.m. The officer had gotten out of his patrol car at the scene when he was struck and killed by another vehicle, reports FOX 5 News’ Robert Moses. Read more: NY Post

Long-delayed YMCA at Arverne by the Sea ready to open in 2013

The long-delayed YMCA slated for the Arverne by the Sea housing development in the Rockaways is set to open in the summer of 2013, officials said Wednesday. The 44,000-square-foot facility at Beach 73rd St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd. will house the largest aquatic center of any YMCA in the city, an outdoor multi-purpose sports field and a 6,500-square-foot gymnasium, officials said. Read more: Daily News

Weapons sold at day-care center, feds charge

This day-care center was armed to the teeth. Authorities yesterday smashed a gun-dealing ring operated by members of three violent Brooklyn motorcycle gangs — including a man who allegedly sold high-powered weapons and stored explosives at the Queens home where his wife runs a licensed day-care center. Read more: NY Post