Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, the two brothers from Bangalore who are suspects in the failed car bombings in Britain, were playful boys who changed after they joined Tabligh-e-Jamaat, a radical Islamic revival movement that wooed them apparently in a hunt to find educated volunteers.
The secretary of the Jamia Hazrat Tipu mosque where the two brothers prayed said on Friday that the siblings were warned when they tried to influence the clergy and young boys to join the movement. It is not clear when the two brothers decided to enlist.
"As children, they mixed with others. But when they joined the Tabligh-e-Jamaat, they picked up a fight with some of our members. They tried to expand the group and asked many of us to join," said Samiullah at the mosque that stands opposite the home of Kafeel and Sabeel’s parents.
Most of their neighbours in Banashankar Stage II, a residential area in Bangalore, either said they did not know the Ahmeds or expressed shock over terrorism links of two educated men. "Yeh bilkul namumkin hai… I used to play with them. Both were introverts. Kafeel used to advise me not to smoke, drink or even watch movies. He said we must grow up as good citizens. I know he was doing something connected with aeroplanes in England. Sabeel had plans to return home and revive a clinic set up by his father," said Afsar, a building contractor, who declined to give his family name.
A top police officer said radical outfits picked on intelligent young men from well-heeled families because such recruits have an inherent advantage in terms of providing knowhow and resources.
The Ahmed brothers were studious and pleasant, said those who knew them. Kafeel studied at the University BDT College of Engineering in Davangere and went on get a doctorate in computational fluid dynamics from Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge. "We read his answerscripts. We are shocked he got into this network and tried to blow up Glasgow airport," said Mahadevappa Katti, a student at the college in Davanagere.
B Siddeswarappa, principal of the college, said Kafeel had declared his religion as "Hindu" in his admission form. "We have communicated all details to the district police," he told Hindustan Times.
Sabeel studied medicine at Bangalore's BR Ambedkar Medical College. "He passed the first year in his second attempt. Later on, he picked up and did pass out in 2003," said Dr S Sachidanand, Registrar (Evaluation), Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Bangalore.