The landlord at 170-33 93rd Ave., where Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis stayed as a guest of a cousin, said Wednesday that he last saw the young Bangladeshi man 16 to 20 days ago.
Rafiqul Islam, 46, a computer engineer who works in Manhattan and lives with his wife and daughter in the building, said he first bumped into Nafis in the apartment hallway a few weeks ago.
When he asked the stranger what he was doing in the building, Nafis told him, "I'm staying on the second floor as a guest."
Islam said the man "seemed to me a quiet-talking guy. He didn't seem nervous." He told the landlord he was looking for another place and would probably be leaving in a few weeks.
Ann Hayes, a spokeswoman for Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo., said Nafis enrolled in a bachelor of science major in cybersecurity, taking 12 credits for a semester that ran from Jan. 11 to May 11, but then requested his records be transferred.
Worshippers at the Jamaica Muslim Center were quick to distance themselves from the arrest Wednesday. Nafis is not a member of the center's mosque, located about 3 miles from where he had been staying. Aftab Uddin Mannan, the joint secretary at the 168th Street center, said members were concerned the arrest would reflect poorly on the local community, which has grown rapidly in size and wealth over the past two decades.
"This is absolutely shocking news for the Bangladeshi community. Bangladeshi people have a very modern view," Mannan said. "We are strongly condemning this."
Mannan said the 700-family mosque is a hub for a growing community of Bangladeshi Muslims in Jamaica. He said when he moved to the area in 1991, there were few Bangladeshi families, but the community has now grown to more than 10,000. Many are pharmacists, dentists, engineers and business people, he said, adding that pharmacists and dentists make up more than 200 of the center's members.
Bangladeshis have contributed to the revitalization of the neighborhood, he said, buying homes, refurbishing property and opening businesses.
Moinul Hossain, who attended the center for sundown prayers Wednesday, said the arrest came as a shock. "For someone, 20 years old, just like these guys, to do something like this," Hossain said, motioning to young men leaving prayers. "He was a big idiot."
Mohammed Saleh, a Muslim community advocate who is part of a small but thriving Bangladeshi community on Long Island, also expressed shock.
"I have never seen that a Bangladeshi person would think like that," said Saleh, 65, of Merrick. "I am angry to hear that anyone had that kind of plot . . . I am a descendant of Bangladeshi but this is my country and it makes me feel like any citizen who would learn something like this."