A Bangladeshi man with alleged links to Al Qaeda, who was arrested in New York on terror charges, was in the United States on a student visa to attend a legitimate academic programme, an American official said on Friday.
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was arrested after an undercover operation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation foiled his plot to detonate a 1,000-pound bomb and blow up the city's Federal Reserve Building.
"The suspect did have a student visa to attend a legitimate academic programme in the United States, for which he was qualified," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.
Noting that visa decisions are made in accordance with applicable law and regulations of the State Department, Nuland said each case is looked at on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all of the information contained in the US government databases, and in consultation with other government agencies.
"This includes the database that we maintain, known as Consular Lookout and Support System, or the CLASS system, which contains records on those who may be inadmissible into the United States. The majority of entries into the CLASS system come from other agencies, and they also include fingerprint records checked against the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI's databases," she said.
Nuland did not say if this issue would result in increased scrutiny of student visa applications from these countries.
"We regularly and consistently update our visa adjudication system, including with regard to how we look at particular cases in particular countries based on new tactics and techniques that terrorists are trying to use to circumvent US law," she said.
Nafis was issued a F1 visa in December 2011, another State Department official said on condition of anonymity. In fact, he was one of the 1,136 F1 visas issued by the State Department from Bangladesh in the 2011 while 476,000 F student visas were issues worldwide.