The family of Akayed Ullah, accused of trying to detonate a pipe bomb in New York on Monday, has engaged the controversial civil activist group CAIR to represent it, and has used its first official statement to attack US law enforcement’s investigation.
“We are heartbroken by this attack on our city today and by the allegations being made against a member of our family,” said the family, through the New York office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“But we are also outraged by the behavior of law enforcement officials during this investigation. Today, we have seen our children, as young as four years old, held out in the cold, detained as their parents were questioned. One teenage relative was pulled out of high school classes and interrogated without a lawyer, without his parents. These are not the actions that we expect from our justice system, and we hope to see better in the days and weeks to come.”
The text did not clarify the names or locations of the relatives.
Ullah, 27, has been charged with illegal possession of a weapon, making terroristic threats, and supporting an act of terrorism, following Monday’s attack, in which the homemade device malfunctioned, causing severe burns to the perpetrator and injuries to three others at the Port Authority bus terminal, near Times Square.
The bomber, who arrived from Bangladesh in 2011 on a family visa, has reportedly told investigators that he was inspired by Islamic State, and says that his actions were revenge against US intervention in the Middle East, and the recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel.
Bangladesh police have also questioned the wife and other family members of the suspected terrorist, who does not have a criminal record in his country of origin, and was not on a terror suspect list in the US, though the authorities say that internet records show that he visited radical Islamic websites.
CAIR, which says that its mission is “to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, and empower American Muslims,” has previously stepped in to give legal and public relations help to the families of those behind the San Bernardino attack in 2015, and the Orlando shooting the following year.
It has been accused of forming a working relationship with Hamas, regarded as a terrorist organization in the US, and the Muslim Brotherhood, though it has rejected these claims.