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Indian executive held for links with ISIS

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Mehdi Masroor Biswas Photo credit: Hindustan Times

 

Mehdi Masroor Biswas Photo credit: Hindustan Times
Mehdi Masroor Biswas
Photo credit: Hindustan Times

A Indian business executive, named as a supporter and publicist of the Islamic State (IS) terror group by a British news channel, was arrested from his rented house here early , a top police official said.

“Terror suspect Mehdi Masroor Biswas, 24, was picked from his one-room rented house in the northeast suburbs and sent to custody after preliminary interrogation,” Karnataka Director General of Police (DGP) Lal Rokhuma Pachau told reporters here.

The arrest came two days after Channel 4 News Thursday reported from London that Mehdi was part of the IS terror group’s Twitter activities and was regularly tweeting from this city.

“Mehdi was found asleep in a one-room tenement when our probe team knocked on his door in the early hours. He was detained, interrogated and arrested on confessing that he was a radical Islamicist,” Pachau said.

Police registered a case against Mehdi under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act the Information Technology (IT) Act.

Two mobiles, one laptop, incriminating documents, religious literature, pictures and CDs were seized from his house during the raid.

Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi had Friday set up a probe team to trace Mehdi on the basis of credible information and inputs from security agencies after Channel 4 report about his presence through ISIS Twitter Ideologue @ShamiWitness in the city.

Biswas, who hails from Gopalpur town in West Bengal’s Nadia district, is employed as a business executive in an Indian multinational firm.

“Mehdi studied in Guru Nanak Engineering College in Kolkata, affiliated to West Bengal Institute of Technology, and was hired for the job through campus interview in 2012,” Pachau said.

The suspect’s parents and two elder sisters live in Gopalpur. His father retired 10 years ago from the West Bengal electricity board.

Mehdi moved to Bengaluru in 2012 on posting and was confirmed in his job in March this year, with a salary of Rs.5.3 lakh per annum

“Mehdi got interested in developments across the Muslim world, spanning West Asia and North Africa since a decade. He used an internet account with 60 GB capacity to download news, views, videos and pictures and browse social media sites such as Facebook, blogs, news portals and used e-mail extensively,” Pachau said.

Mehdi’s Twitter handler was shut a day after the news channel unmasked his identity and terror activities he was carrying in the virtual world beyond office hours.

Mehdi confessed to operating @ShamiWitness Twitter account over the years, as he got interested in the developments of the region consisting of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza strip, Egypt and Libya since 2003.

He has about 17,000 Twitter followers and used to aggressively tweet by collecting information and watching developments in this region.

“He was close to the English-speaking terrorists of IS and became a source of incitement and information for new recruits trying to join the group,” Reddi said.

Through his social media propaganda, Mehdi also abetted ISIL in its agenda to wage war.

Mehdi was careful in hiding his true identity and was confident that it would never get revealed.

Preliminary investigation, including interrogation of Mehdi, revealed he has been operating mostly in the virtual world and did not have local associates or links.

“Mehdi became an IS sympathiser after reading voraciously on the socio-religious factors of Muslims in the Arab world and became active on social media and Twitter accounts to share, translate and spread messages of the IS terror group from Arabic into English and from other languages into Arabic,” Reddi said.

“He did not recruit or facilitate or travel outside the country though he was popular in the internet and Twitter world, with thousands of followers in the social media,” he added.

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