Bengaluru Executive Behind Islamic State's Top Twitter Account Arrested

Mehdi Masroor Biswas's photo released by Bengaluru Police

Bengaluru: A Bengaluru-based man who allegedly operated Islamic State's most influential Twitter account was arrested from his house by the Bengaluru Police last night. He has been accused of waging war against a friendly nation and violation of Information Technology Act.

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the person behind Twitter handle "@shamiwitness", is a 24-year-old engineer who worked for a multinational in Bengaluru, police said. He moved to the city in 2011 and stays in Bengaluru's upscale southeast suburb. Police said he is an alumnus of West Bengal Institute of Technology.  

Sources say Mehdi did not have any direct link with Al Qaida or Islamic State group and nothing as yet suggests he was in direct touch with any jihadi element. He appears to be a case of self-radicalisation.

Mehdi collected data, videos from web to post on Twitter, and majority of his tweets and posts have been deleted. Agencies are now trying to reconstruct Mehdi's cyber activities. So far, no anti-India activity or tweets posted by Mehdi have been found. Nothing has been found to infer Mehdi suggested any attacks in India, say sources.

Mehdi seems more of a propagandist for Islamic State, not a recruiter or jihadi himself, sources add.

The National Investigation Agency was reportedly aware of the Twitter account "@shamiwitness" and was tracking it even before Britain's Channel 4 News came up with its report on the account holder.

UK based Channel 4 news on Thursday claimed that the man who operated the Twitter handle is one of the most influential recruiters for the Islamic State and is based in Bengaluru.

"His tweets, written under the name Shami Witness, were seen two million times each month, making him perhaps the most influential Islamic State Twitter account, with over 17,700 followers," the channel said.

Mahdi has since shut down the account, which the channel said was a leading source of information between jihadis, supporters, and recruits.
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