An engineer, a native of West Bengal and working in Bengaluru as a manufacturing executive in ITC foods division was arrested from his home in Bengaluru on December 13 by Bengaluru police for using social media as a platform to propagate terrorism. His police custody extends till January 2, 2015.
Mehadi Masroor Biswas, suspected in handling Twitter Account in the name of “Shami Witness” to instigate terrorism by tweeting about terrorist organisation ISIS, has confessed to the crime during interrogation, police said.
Alerted after the second interview aired by UK based Channel-4 which stated @ShamiWitness account had a massive 17,700 followers, was being run by a man based in Bengaluru, Bengaluru police tracked down Mehdi to a rented apartment Sujatha Buildings in Jalahalli, Bengaluru west and took him into custody. The Channel 4 report also claimed that Mehdi was ready to join the Islamic State himself if his family had not been dependant on him.
Mehdi who was working in the day time normally but turning wild after office hours, developed a strong liking for hardcore terrorism displayed by IS terrorists, said police in a joint press meet by Lalrokhuma Pachau, Director-General and Inspector-General of Police, Karnataka ,MN Reddy, Commissioner of Police, Bengaluru city and other senior police officers soon after his arrest.
“Mehdi was aggressively promoting the updates of ISIS activities through his Twitter account and preliminary investigation has revealed that he used to translate media coverage and text from other sources about ISIS from other languages into English, to reach maximum people,” Lalrokhuma Pachau said.
The accused, by hiding his true identity was involved in similar activities of radical ideology of Islam from the year 2009, police said.
“He (Mehadi) was working on a global platform by hiding his identity. He used to collect minute-minute updates about ISIS activities and tweet it. It is evident that he endorsed terrorism though social media and encouraged Muslim youth to join ISIS, “said MN Reddy.
Mehdi has been charged under “Section 125 IPC which deals with the “crime of waging war against any Asiatic power in alliance with government of India”. However Biswas is also charged with Section 66A of the IT Act, which deals with spreading hateful content online.
The investigating officers are finding it tough to go through all the documents as the data to be analysed is vast with about 1.2 lakh tweets, 17,000 plus followers, large number of re-tweets, hash tags and direct messages.
Reliable sources from police department said, an entire room is filled up the printouts taken so far from Twitter Account and police are taking the help of private IT companies to provide necessary technical support to decode everything from the twitter account. As most documents are in Arabic language, obtaining proper translation into English or Kannada has become a headache for police.
In the preliminary investigation it is revealed that 48 people were in constant touch with Mehdi and police have contacted 11 out of 48 people so far and asked them to give their statement. It is also suspected that 3 people out of 11 are from Maharashtra and they have a direct link to top terrorists of ISIS. In the backdrop police are in a process to take Mehdi to Maharashtra for further investigation, depending on court”s directive.
According to another report, Biswas has several e-mail ids and has refused to give the police the passwords of the same by saying he has forgotten it.
—R Guruprasad from Bengaluru