DHAKA (Reuters) - Police in Bangladesh are questioning the wife of Akayed Ullah, a Bangladeshi man U.S. authorities say set off a pipe bomb in a crowded New York City commuter hub, two senior police officials in Bangladesh said on Tuesday.
The two officials, who declined to be identified as they are not permitted to discuss the matter publicly, did not give any detail on the questioning but said the couple have a six-month old baby boy.
“We have found his wife and in-laws in Dhaka. We are interviewing them,” one of the police officials told Reuters.
Ullah set off an explosion in an underground pedestrian corridor between New York’s Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal at rush hour on Monday, injuring himself and three others in what New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called an attempted terrorist attack.
Authorities in Bangladesh began trying to track down Ullah’s family soon after news of the attack broke and they first found a cousin, said a third official, Mahiuddin Mahmud.
“We learned from his cousin that he had a wife and a baby in Bangladesh,” Mahmud said.
The cousin, Emdad Ullah, told Reuters that Ullah and his family originally lived the Chittagong region in southern Bangladesh but moved to the capital, Dhaka, years ago.
Ullah had married a Bangladeshi woman about two years ago, and she lived in Dhaka, the cousin said, adding that Ullah had a normal education in Bangladesh before moving to the United States.
Bangladesh’s police chief had told Reuters on Monday that 27-year-old Ullah had no criminal record in his home country, which he last visited in September.
Ullah lived with his mother, sister and two brothers in Brooklyn and was a green card holder, said Shameem Ahsan, consul general of Bangladesh in New York.
A U.S. enforcement official familiar with the investigation into Monday’s attack said officers had found evidence that Ullah had watched Islamic State propaganda on the internet.
Bangladesh strongly condemned the attack.
“A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of his or her ethnicity or religion, and must be brought to justice,” the government said in a statement.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said the attack emphasized the need for U.S. immigration reforms.
“America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country,” he said in a statement.
The president also criticized the visa program that allowed Ullah to enter the United States in 2011 because he had family members already in the country, saying such family visas are “incompatible with national security.”
H.T. Imam, a political adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said he believed the attack would have no “negative impact” on relations with the United States.
“The U.S. government is well informed about the Bangladesh government’s attitude regarding terror activities,” Imam said.
The U.S. Supreme Court last week handed a victory to Trump by allowing his latest travel ban targeting people from six Muslim-majority countries to go into full effect even as legal challenges continue in lower courts.
The ban covers people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen seeking to enter the United States. Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the United States from terrorism by Islamist militants.
Bangladesh is not among the countries impacted by the ban.
Reporting by Ruma Paul and Serajul Quadir; Writing by Euan Rocha; Editing by Robert Birsel