Image: Kafeel Ahmed
Kafeel Ahmed, who is currently in a Scottish hospital after allegedly crashing into Glasgow airport, and his brother Sabeel were studious young men, an imam who lived across from them said.
updated 7/9/2007 6:46:02 PM ET 2007-07-09T22:46:02

For 10 years, Mohammed Hassaan watched the two boys in the modest gray house across the street from his mosque grow into young professionals and observant Muslims.

But things changed the last few years, he said Monday. Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed moved to Britain, and when they returned for visits they attended a radical mosque in Bangalore, cutting themselves off from their more moderate Muslim upbringing.

The brothers chose "a different mosque ... a different school of thought," said Hassaan, imam at the Khudadaad Mosque.

Today, Kafeel Ahmed, 27, is in a Scottish hospital with burns suffered after allegedly crashing a Jeep Cherokee into the Glasgow airport a day after police found two unexploded car bombs in central London. Sabeel Ahmed, 26, is held in Liverpool as a suspect in the terror plot.

Hassaan said the men's father had spoken to him sadly of his sons turning toward militant Islam. "Who can say how or why they changed, but they were different," said the imam, a friendly bearded man in his late 30s.

Officials with the mosque later attended by the brothers could not be reached for comment. The Ahmed family declined requests for interviews.

Things started out far differently for the brothers, who are among eight people held in the case. Theirs was a cosmopolitan family. Both parents were doctors who settled in a simple, two-story home named "Kauser," after the heavenly lake mentioned in the Quran.

Worked hard to become engineer, doctor
Both boys studied hard. Eventually, Kafeel became an engineer and Sabeel a doctor. Both moved to Britain to work.

In recent years, though, the brothers stopped coming to the neighborhood mosque when they were back on visits. Hassaan said he asked their father to bring them, but says he was told "their religious point of view is now very different from ours."

"I do not know what was going on in the hearts and minds of those two men," Hassaan said. "This news is a big shock for all of us. ... We could never have imagined this."

On Monday, Indian investigators said they had seized a computer hard drive and CDs belonging to Kafeel Ahmed. Kafeel left them when he went back to Britain in early May, said Bangalore's police commissioner, N. Achuta Rao.

"The hard disk is being examined to ascertain the contents and possible connection to the UK incident and also regarding terrorist activity, if any, in India and elsewhere," Rao said.

Rao said Indian police had questioned the friends and family of the Ahmeds as well as those who knew Mohammad Haneef, a 27-year-old doctor stopped at the Brisbane, Australia, airport and arrested July 2 based on information from British officials.

Just one charged so far
Police in Australia on Monday were granted two more days to question Haneef under counterterrorism laws that allow detention without filing charges. He is also from Bangalore and was working at a hospital in eastern Queensland state after emigrating from Britain last year.

The case emerged June 29, when two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered in London's entertainment district. The next day, the flaming Jeep smashed into security barriers at the main terminal at Glasgow airport.

Only one of the eight people in custody as suspects has been charged: Bilal Abdullah, an Iraqi doctor identified as a passenger in the Jeep.

News of the Ahmeds' arrest jolted the family's quiet neighborhood, where photographers and television crews have parked in front of their home around the clock. The brothers' parents and sister haven't been seen outside their homes for several days.

"The media has hounded and harassed this family," said B.T. Venkatesh, a human rights lawyer helping the Ahmed family.

"They are simple and religious people and they have no idea what is going on," he said, adding the family had not even been asked by British authorities to officially identify the driver of the Jeep as their son Kafeel.

'Our family is suffering right now,' sister says
On Monday, a woman who identified herself as Sadia Kauser, the sister of Kafeel and Sabeel, said no one in the family would talk to the media. "You have no idea how our family is suffering right now," she said.

Elsewhere, France-based Interpol complained Monday that Britain's government had not cooperated with the international police agency in the latest terrorism case.

"We have received not one name, not one fingerprint, not one telephone number, not one address, nothing, from the U.K., about the recent thwarted terrorist attacks," Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble, a former U.S. Treasury official, said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television.

He also said Britain was not making good use Interpol's information on suspected terrorists, stolen passports and other data.

British officials said they are striving to make fuller use of Interpol's databases.

Britain has recorded "all known and suspected terrorists declared by Interpol" on a watch list, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the House of Commons. She said officials were working to access Interpol's list of lost and stolen passport numbers.

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