Relatives of the Midtown bomber have recounted the shocking moment they saw photos of the attacker lying on the ground in the aftermath of the blast — and realized who it was.
Father-in-law Zulifikar Haider had been worried when Akayed Ullah missed a regular call to his wife in Bangladesh on Monday.
Then he heard his own wife scream.
“Even in our worst nightmares, we could not have foreseen this,” Haider, 62, said Wednesday evening, following two days of questioning by Bangladesh’s counterterrorism police.
But Ullah’s in-laws believe he was caught up in a “conspiracy.”
“A person who keeps roza [religious fasting in Islam], reads the Koran and goes to mosque five times a day can’t do such a heinous act,” Haider said.
Ullah’s wife, Jannatul Ferdous Jui, hid behind a curtain in the family’s Dhaka home and told the assembled media that her husband is “innocent,” imploring reporters and local lawmakers to get him justice, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
Ullah, a 27-year-old Bangladesh native and Brooklyn resident, is facing life in prison after strapping a pipe bomb to himself and detonating it in a subway passageway leading from Times Square to the Port Authority Bus Terminal during Monday morning’s rush hour.
His life and those of commuters were spared when the crude device misfired, but he was badly burned in the partial blast.
He later told investigators that he did it “for the Islamic State” and because he was angry “with America’s Middle East policies,” according to prosecutors.
Bangladeshi police also believe Ullah was influenced by the sermons and writings of a radical Muslim preacher, and say he’d also introduced Jui to the militant leader’s inflammatory screeds.
Ullah and Jui married in Bangladesh in 2016, but she stayed behind to finish college and give birth to their son, who is now 6 months old.
He has returned three times since, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
“I hoped my daughter would go to the United States, and my son-in-law would then help get my son over there,” Haider said.
“I no longer want my daughter to go to America. I just want our son-in-law back.”