Al-Qaeda may have found a rich seam of middle-class discontent Three years ago, Sonia Gandhi, president of India's ruling Congress Party, categorically stated: 'Indian Muslims don't do al-Qaeda.' And in 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared during a visit to Washington: 'I take pride in the fact that although India has 150 million Muslims, not one has been found to have joined the ranks of al-Qaeda or participated in the activities of the Taleban.' The events of the past fortnight will no doubt have given them both pause to reconsider. Investigations into the failed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow are being blamed on a group that included Kafeel Ahmed, a Bangalore-bred aeronautical engineer who police say rammed a flaming jeep into the Glasgow airport terminal. His brother Sabeel, a doctor, has been arrested in Britain, while their cousin, Mohammed Haneef, is being held in Australia in connection with the attacks. Political commentators and security experts blame Saudi Arabia's brand of Wahabi, or hardline Islam, for leading Indian Muslims towards violence. They also attribute their apparent radicalisation to domestic discrimination and virulent anti-Muslim campaigns by Hindu nationalist groups such as the Bharatiya Janata Party. 'For how long can Indian Muslims remain immune to what's happening in the Islamic world? Their radicalisation reveals the depth of anti-US and anti-British sentiments fanned by occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and attempts to intimidate Iran', said New Delhi-based analyst Praful Bidwai. 'That even scientists and doctors are being sucked in highlights the appeal of al-Qaeda among middle class Indian Muslims.' B. Raman - a former additional secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency - says that Indian Muslims are 'tempting assets for recruitment by al-Qaeda because they are not subjected to the intense surveillance members of the Pakistani diaspora are'. Mr Raman says that Bangalore - where Kafeel Ahmed, Sabeel Ahmed and Mohammad Haneef studied - has educational institutions that have been attracting radical Arab and Iranian students since the 1980s. 'In 1994, Israeli police arrested a Palestinian student in Bangalore and recovered explosive devices. Israel cautioned New Delhi that southern India, particularly Bangalore, was attracting students who had the potential of becoming terrorists. 'Around the same time, Cairo alerted us that radical students denied admission to Arab universities were managing to get into Indian institutions without the government of India being aware of their extremist background,' he said. Gautam Adhikari, a leading political commentator, claimed that Wahabi Islam was brainwashing a section of Indian Muslims. 'Fuelled, almost literally speaking, by Saudi money, its tentacles are spreading in India through a network of mosques and madrassas. Its rise is no more than three-decades old, coinciding with the start of the oil boom in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf,' said Mr Adhikari. Moloy Kumar Dhar, a retired Intelligence Bureau joint director, says that he is not surprised by Indian Muslims joining al-Qaeda. 'There is a history of Pakistani jihadi outfits and Inter-Services Intelligence hiring Indians. The nexus has now progressed to al-Qaeda. It was inevitable,' he said. But Syed Shahabuddin, former diplomat and MP, tried to play down the so-called Bangalore connection describing it as a 'flash in the pan'. 'Of the 150 million Indian Muslims, if you find one or two odd ones, what's the big deal?' he said. 'And even the arrested engineer and doctors need to be tried and found guilty of actually committing the crime they are being accused of.'