ISIS twitter account handler arrested

The apartment where pro-Islamic state twitter account handler Mehdi Masroor Biswas (inset) was staying in Bengaluru on Saturday. Biswas was operating @shamiwitness twitteraccount for last many years. (PTI)

Bengaluru: Bengaluru-based engineer Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who was named by UK-based Channel 4 as the man behind terror group Islamic State’s (IS) most influential Twitter handle, was on Saturday arrested from his flat here and slapped with charges of “waging war” and unlawful activities.

24-year-old Biswas has “confessed” that he was handling the pro-jihad tweeter “@ShamiWitness” and became “a source of incitement and information” for new ISIS recruits, Karnataka DGP L Pachau told reporters here.

Biswas, an engineer working as “manufacturing executive” with ITC Foods for an annual package of Rs 5.3 lakh, was arrested from his rented one-room apartment, Police Commissioner M N Reddi said, adding, he did not resist while being taken into custody. When contacted, Nazeeb Arif, Vice President Corporate Communications of ITC LTD, admitted that Biswas was an employee. “We informed Bengaluru police about his employment status as soon as we found media reports on this issue, and have extended every cooperation with the investigation process,” Arif said.

Biswas, hailing from West Bengal, had admitted to operating “@ShamiWitness” twitter account for the last many years and had more than 17,000 followers on Twitter. He used to “ferociously” tweet by aggregating information and closely watching developments of the region, Pachau said.

Reddi said Biswas had been arrested under Sec 125 of IPC (whoever wages war against the Government of any Asiatic power in alliance or at peace with the Government of India or attempts to wage such war, or abets the waging of such war), Sections 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 66 of the Information Technology act.

Asked if Biswas had any link with ISIS, Reddi said it was being investigated “but by and large, our interrogation of the accused reveals that he was majorly in the virtual world.” Two mobile phones and a laptop had been seized from him.

Bengaluru Police had launched a manhunt for Biswas after Britain’s Channel 4 News had aired the report regarding the country’s IT capital’s link with the Twitter account that is followed by foreign jihadis.

Channel 4 News had said its investigation had revealed that the man operating the account is called Mehdi and he is an executive in Bangalore working for an Indian conglomerate.(PTI)