When a 'Decent and Unassuming' Tenant Turned Out to be Terror Suspect

The building where the terror suspects rented out an apartment.

The building where the terror suspects rented out an apartment.

The NIA this week arrested 40-year-old Ahamed Abdul Cader, who had lived with his family incident-free for six years at a south Bengaluru house, in connection with a case about an ISIS module in the city.


Kushala Satyanarayana

On Wednesday morning, when a police vehicle arrived in front of house #27/57, 8th A main road, New Gurappanapalya, the building owner looked spooked. The man who was with the police was his tenant of six years, Ahamed Abdul Cader, whom he knew as a "quiet, unassuming and peaceful man working in the nearby MNC".

Cader’s house on the second floor of this building looks deserted. The family had packed up to vacate the house and were about to move this week, but for the arrest of Cader by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday.

Cader, 40, a native of Ramanathpuram, Tamil Nadu, and Irfan Nasir, 33, a resident of Frazer Town, were arrested on Wednesday in connection with a case about a Bengaluru-based ISIS module. While Cader had recently joined a bank in Chennai as a business analyst, Irfan Nasir is a rice merchant in the city.

Gurappanapalya, a Muslim-dominated area in south Bengaluru, has become infamous for similar activities of late – sometime in January, NIA had picked up about five people in connection with terror-related cases, having allegiance to the working of ISIS. The neighbourhood read about Cader’s arrest in the media and there was a buzz. Cader’s house owners had to answer back-to-back calls on how they did not see through their tenant’s activities.

"Cader came to us through a broker six years ago and took the 2BHK house on the second floor for rent. Just a month after he moved in he got married. At that time he was working in IBM close to the house. He was a quiet man and we have never heard him talk loudly. The family never mingled with anyone around as they only spoke Tamil and had a language problem. What we read in the newspaper and the police knocking at our doors came as a shocker," says a visibly upset Tabassum, the owner. Her husband, Syed Sanaullah, is employed with a central government department.

Cader has a three-year-old son who is hearing and speech impaired. Six months ago, when the lockdown happened, the family left for their native place in Tamil Nadu. "He had requested to reduce the rent; from Rs 17,000 per month, we brought it down to Rs 15,000. He said he had quit IBM and had joined a bank in Chennai. We wanted to shift from the fourth floor to the second floor and asked him to vacate. The family returned on Sunday and finished packing.

Since the house was empty for six months, it was cockroach-infested and the family said they will be staying in a nearby relative’s place till shifting. Cader promised to vacate in two days, but by then we saw him being taken away by the police," says Tabassum, pointing at the half-opened boxes at Cader’s house, through the window.

On Friday morning too, three policemen had visited her house to take some details about Cader. "We don’t know when the house will be vacated and what kind of tenants we will get in future," a worried Tabassum says.

The background of the two arrests were the seizure of "certain incriminating facts that emerged about the Bengaluru-based ISIS module during the investigation of an Islamic State Khorasan Province case". This was during an operation in August when Dr Abdur Rahman aka Dr Brave was rounded up – he had completed his post-graduation in medicine from MS Ramaiah Medical College and Hospital. During his examination, names of his associates who had travelled to Syria in 2013-2014 to join ISIS had surfaced.

"Further investigation resulted in busting of a module wherein it was revealed that accused Ahamed Abdul Cader, Irfan Nasir and their associates were members of Hizb-ut-Tehrir. They had formed a group called ‘Quran Circle’ which radicalized gullible Muslim youth in Bengaluru and funded their visit to conflict zone in Syria to aid and assist the ISIS terrorists. Based on this, NIA registered a case against Cader and Nasir for having affiliation with the banned terrorist organization ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; for entering into a conspiracy to radicalize and motivate Muslim youth of Bengaluru to join ISIS, and for raising funds to facilitate their travel to Syria," said the NIA in a release.

According to the agency, Cader, Nasir and their associates played a significant role in raising money through donations and own sources to fund the visit of Dr Abdur Rahman and other Muslim youth to Syria to join ISIS. Two of the men who visited Syria got killed in the conflict area.

Wednesday’s searches on Cader and Nasir's homes resulted in seizure of incriminating material and electronic devices.

Cut to the other part of the city: Cleveland, Frazer Town. Flat number TF 301, Taskeen Apartments, where Nasir lives with his family. Following his arrest and the search on his house, the family has not ventured out. "Chale jao, chale jao yahan se (Go away, go away from here)," a woman from inside the house started screaming without opening the door when the News18 team tried to speak to her. "Don’t ring the bell. Kids are here. Go away from here."

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