13 Dec 2014

Top IS Twitter propagandist arrested after investigation

Indian police arrest a man suspected of operating the most influential pro-IS Twitter account, following a Channel 4 News investigation.

shami witness twitter Mehdi Masroor Biswas is isis isil

Indian police have arrested a man they named as Mehdi Masroor Biswas on suspicion of offences of cyber terrorism and crimes against the state.

Police also said that he confirmed that he is the man behind the @ShamiWitness account.

Mehdi Masroor Biswas was arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning at his rented apartment by Bangalore City Police.

Police said that the man was alleged to “ferociously tweet” information about the activities of militants belonging to the Islamic State group (IS, also known as Isis or Isil).

The account was shut down shortly after Channel 4 News uncovered key details of the person running the account including that it was being operated from Bangalore.

Mehdi’s father told Times Now Channel that his son was innocent and had been framed.

“My son is not linked to any jihadi group,” said his father, whose identity was withheld by the channel.

Channel 4 News investigation

A Channel 4 News investigation this week revealed that the man operating the Shami Witness account was an executive in Bangalore working for an Indian conglomerate.

He told Channel 4 News on Thursday that he thought he had not done anything wrong.

“No I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t harmed anybody, I haven’t broken any laws of the country,” he said.

“I haven’t raised any war or any violence against the public of India.”

Read more: Unmasked - the man behind top Islamic State Twitter account

His tweets, written under the name Shami Witness, were seen 2m times each month, making him perhaps the most influential Islamic State Twitter account, with over 17,700 followers.

Two thirds of all foreign fighters on Twitter followed him. When a fighter’s Twitter account was suspended, he often promoted the new one and urged people to follow it.

He spoke to British jihadis regularly, before they left to join the Islamic State, and after they arrived, and if they died he praised them as martyrs.

Dr Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management in Delhi, told Channel 4 News that the process of India’s legal system is “punishment by trial” and that the prospects of conviction were slim.