Plot suspect was suspended from Missouri school
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO. - The Bangladeshi national accused of trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York transferred to a college in Manhattan after he was academically suspended from the Missouri school he attended for a semester, officials said.
Nafis was arrested Wednesday after he attempted to blow up a fake car bomb outside the federal facility in lower Manhattan.
University president Kenneth Dobbins said at a news conference Thursday at the school that Nafis was informed that he wasn't allowed to return to the school because of his poor academic performance. Nafis then requested his transcripts be sent to the New York institution.
He moved to Jamaica, Queens, and transferred to ASA College in New York, a for-profit business and computer technology school, with facilities in Brooklyn and Manhattan, said George Trahanis, the college's international student adviser.
Nafis was "prepping to go into computer programming," but started taking an English as a Second Language class at the college's Manhattan campus on Oct. 9 because college officials "felt his English needed more work," Trahanis said.
"There was nothing unusual about his enrollment," he said. "When he transferred from the school in Missouri all his papers were in order."
He said Nafis' last day was Oct. 16, the day before he was arrested by federal authorities. "We were stunned when we heard the news," Trahanis said.
Dobbins said when Nafis applied at Southeast Missouri, he indicated that he had only attended a Bangladeshi secondary school. He said Nafis was admitted because of his performance on two tests -- a national exam from his secondary school and one that evaluated his use of English in an academic setting.
"His scores were well above the scores recommended for admission from secondary schools in Bangladesh," he said.
Dobbins said Nafis met with advisers in January and gave them a transcript from North South University in Bangla-desh and requested credit for his transfer coursework. But based on Nafis' academic record at the Bangladesh college, he was put on "transfer probation." His transcript's documents showed he attended North South from spring 2009 to fall 2011, Dobbins said.
He said Nafis didn't have a "student conduct record," which students receive after they violate a college code.
At Southeast Missouri, a school with an enrollment of about 11,700, including about 800 international students, Dobbins said Nafis took prerequisites for his major in cybersecurity, but did not take any upper-level courses. Dobbins quoted faculty as saying Nafis was frequently absent from class.
But a struggling student wasn't the only way Missouri residents remembered Nafis, who was a regular worshipper at the Islamic Center of Cape Girardeau, a few blocks from the college.
"There was no reason for any of us to suspect any of these types of behaviors," said Shafiq Malik, 54, of Cape Girardeau. Malik described Nafis as a "shy, nice guy" who attended the Islamic Center almost daily, walking there from his home.
Malik said he thought Nafis was going to New York to work for the summer and expected him to return to Missouri to continue his schooling.
"It doesn't make any sense," said Wisam Yunis, 29, of Cape Girardeau, who spoke with Nafis at the prayer sessions. With Olivia Winslow