Britain’s Channel 4 is credited in this report with revealing this man’s identity, but it didn’t actually name him. In any case, here is yet another blow for the common assumption that poverty causes terrorism and will be cured by transfers of money to populations likely to produce terrorists: Mehdi Masroor Biswas was a prosperous manufacturing executive. He didn’t align with the Islamic State because of rage over poverty. He aligned with them because he believed in their understanding of Islam. But no authorities are willing to address that phenomenon.
“Bangalore Police arrest pro-jihad Twitter handle user Mehdi Biswas, book him under Unlawful Activities Act,” Indian Express, December 13, 2014:
Though never directly associated with the Islamic State terrorist outfit, a 24-year-old manufacturing executive at an Indian conglomerate, Mehdi Masroor Biswas, accumulated knowledge regarding the outfit by spending hours aggregating data regarding radical Islamic activities in the middle east to disseminate information on his @shamiwitness Twitter account, Bangalore police commissioner M N Reddi said following the arrest of the youth on Saturday.
Mehdi Masroor Biswas had been outed as the Bangalore-based individual behind the pro-Islamic State Twitter account @shamiwitness by UK’s Channel 4 on Friday.
Multiple agencies began efforts to locate Mehdi on Friday and he was arrested from a single room apartment in North Bangalore in the early hours of Saturday. Mehdi has confessed to being the person behind the @shamiwitness Twitter account police commissioner Reddi said.
Two mobile phones and a laptop were seized from Mehdi’s residence and efforts are on to obtain the computer log to verify the electronic links between Mehdi and the @shamiwitness Twitter account. Police are seeking the co-operation of Twitter to obtain the logs of the account to produce as independent proof to link Mehdi with the pro-IS Twitter account, the police commissioner said.
Mehdi had been booked under the Indian Penal Code’s section 125 which defines “waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the Government of India” as an offence with a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment and a fine. The same section of law has been invoked by the NIA while booking Mumbai youth Arif Majid who recently returned to India after being associated with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq for a period of around four months.
Mehdi has also been booked under section 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 2004 for supporting a terrorist organization and section 66 of the Information Technology Act 2000 for computer-related offences.
Police sources involved with the interrogation of Mehdi described his as being “very emotionally invested in the cause of Islam”.
“The @shamiwitness account seemed to have become his main cause in life. He was so consumed by it that he did not have much of a life beyond his work and the Internet. He was however probably only a major sympathiser of the Islamic State and did not take any concrete measures to join the outfit,” sources involved with the interrogation of Mehdi said.
According to Bangalore police commissioner M N Reddi, Mehdi “was not directly involved with the Islamic State but he was also not a mere sympathiser”.
“He operated exclusively on the Internet. He was not linked to Indian terrorist activities,” Reddi said.
Mehdi who came to Bangalore from West Bengal in 2012 to work as a manufacturing executive in ITC Foods earning Rs 5.3 lakh per annum, spent hours on the Internet looking at information on jihadi activities in the middle east. He aggregated information put out in Arabic and translated them to English by using online translation tools before tweeting this information in English. He also tweeted his own interpretations of events and situations, commissioner Reddi said.He got interested in the Levant or Sham region in the middle east consisting of countries like Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, from 2009. He used to work in his office during the day and would be active on Internet late into the night. He took a 60 GB monthly internet connection and used to read all breaking news websites related to the Islamic State,” the police commissioner said.
“He got interested in the Levant or Sham region in the middle east consisting of countries like Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, from 2009. He used to work in his office during the day and would be active on Internet late into the night. He took a 60 GB monthly internet connection and used to read all breaking news websites related to the Islamic State,” the police commissioner said.
“He was particularly close to English-speaking terrorists of ISIS and became a source of incitement and information for the new recruits trying to join ISIS. Through his social media propaganda he abetted ISIS in its agenda to wage war against the Asiatic powers,” police said. Mehdi was so attached to the cause of radical Islam that he did not have a social life or a girlfriend, police said.
“He was careful in hiding his true identity and was confident that it will never get revealed. His identity was exposed by Channel 4 and inputs were passed on to Indian agencies,” he said….