Arrest of al Qaeda operatives in Kerala: Noticed nothing suspicious, say employer & neighbours

Arrest of al Qaeda operatives in Kerala: Noticed nothing suspicious, says employer & neighbours
The rented house in which Mosaraf Hossen stayed.

Kochi: Mosaraf Hossen had been working at a textile shop at Perumbavoor in Kerala's Ernakulam district for the past seven years. His owner V M Aboobacker, a native of Kalamassery, had no suspicions about this migrant labourer until Saturday, when Mosaraf Hossen was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for being an al-Qaeda operative.

Mosaraf, a West Bengal native, was among the three terrorists arrested from Ernakulam district on Saturday as the NIA busted a Pakistan-sponsored al-Qaeda terror module in the country. All three were migrant workers in Kerala.

According to the textile owner, Mosaraf had reached Kerala about 10 years ago. He left after three years. But was back again. His family also came to live with him in Ernakulam about five years ago. One of his children is in class 4, while another is four years old. Aboobacker said that all documents were handed over to the police three years ago.

He further said that he had seen Mosaraf making phone calls while at the shop. He also watched videos. Apart from Bengali, he could also converse in Malayalam.

Meanwhile, Mosaraf's wife has said she does not believe that her husband had any terror links, according to ward member V C Chandran. After her husband was arrested, she locked herself and the children in the house. Though mediapersons arrived at their house, she did not talk to them.

Did not mingle much with neighbours

Mosaraf’s house owner P A Anwar said that he normally did not rent out quarters for migrant workers. But after a woman, who had been their neighbour previously, recommended about the family, he provided rented accommodation for Mosaraf.

Mosaraf possessed the ID card and did not find anything suspicious, he added.

Another woman in the neighbourhood said that Mosaraf's family did not mingle much with others in the area.

Arrest of al Qaeda operatives in Kerala: Noticed nothing suspicious, says employer & neighbours
Mosaraf Hossen (left) and Iyakub Biswas

Mosaraf, who went out every morning, returned only in the night. His wife sometimes interacted with others. The woman further said that she came to know about the terrorists only after seeing the TV reports on Saturday morning.

Iyakub Biswas is illiterate

The second person arrested from Ernakulam, Iyakub Biswas, is a native of Murshidabad in West Bengal. Iyakub, who studied till class 3, does not know how to read or write, according to Mainul Sarkar and Titan Mandal, the two others who shared accommodation with him. Though all three are from Murshidabad, they got acquainted after coming to Kerala. Iyakub’s wife and daughter are in Bengal.

Iyakub did not use the phone much during work. But he sent voice messages over the phone after his work hours, his friends said, adding that they did not notice anything suspicious. Also, he spoke with his family for long hours.

A neighbour, Moideen, also said that he had not noticed anything suspicious in Iyakub's behaviour.

Arrest of al Qaeda operatives in Kerala: Noticed nothing suspicious, says employer & neighbours

Murshid was calm & gentle

A calm and gentle person, who was not very talkative - this is how Murshid Hasan's neighbours at Pathalam described him. He did not seek work continuously.

The 26-year-old, originally from West Bengal, had started living at the house near Pathalam bridge two month ago. The house belonged to Nasar, a vegetable seller. Azeez, who provided workers for the companies in the Edayar industrial region, has taken this house on rent.

The NIA carried out the simultaneous raids at several locations in Ernakulam and Murshidabad in West Bengal on Saturday after getting a tip-off about the al-Qaeda operatives.

Apart from the three nabbed from Ernakulam, six terrorists were arrested in Murshidabad.

The central agency said the terror module has been operational for some time and was planning to carry out attacks at vital installations in the country.

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