Bengaluru: IS Twitter account handler was in touch with ISIS combatant in Iraq: police

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Bengaluru, Jan 2 (PTI): Alleged pro-Islamic State (IS) Twitter account handler Mehdi Masroor Biswas was in touch with ISIS combatant stationed in Iraq, a top police official said.

“During our interrogation of Biswas, we have found that the IS account holder was in touch with the ISIS combatant and he was an aide,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner M N Reddi told reporters  here.

Biswas was produced before a city court today and sent to judicial custody till January 16.

Biswas was arrested on Dember 13 under IPC section 125 (waging war against the Government of any Asiatic power in alliance with the Government of India) section 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

Reddi said police have gathered sufficient evidence to prove that Biswas supported ISIS and also his direct messages on his Twitter handle revealed that he encouraged people to join IS.

“We have sufficient evidence to prove he (Biswas) supported ISIS. Direct messages on his Twitter handle also show he encouraged people to join the terrorist outfit. He had been pro-actively tweeting,” he said.

Police had launched a manhunt for Biswas after Britain’s Channel 4 News had aired the report on the presence of ISIS Twitter Ideologue @ShamiWitness here and arrested him from a rented apartment in the city.

On the Bengaluru blast outside a restaurant here on December 28 that claimed the life of a woman from Chennai and injured three others, Reddi said police were waiting for corroborative evidence to ascertain if the sketches matched. Until then, police wouldn’t release them, he added.

On whether police saw any link with the 2005 IISc terror attack in which an IIT Professor from Delhi was killed by unidentified gunmen, he said, “it cannot be ruled out.”

Asked whether the suspects would have visited Bengaluru before carrying out the blast, he said “the police did not have tacit information on that but the suspects had stayed in Hubballi, Yadgiri and Hosapete for four to five months.”

Outlawed outfit SIMI’s possible role has come under the scanner of investigators probing the terror attack. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had said last week that some SIMI members who had escaped from a jail in Madhya Pradesh had visited Karnataka.

Bengaluru: Pro-ISIS Twitter handler sent to judicial custody

Bengaluru, Jan 2 (IANS) A special court Friday sent ISIS Twitter handler Mehdi Masroor Biswas to 14 day judicial custody after his 15-day police custody expired, a top police official said.

“Our probe team has collected sufficient evidence from him (Mehdi) on his pro-ISIS propaganda for the banned terrorist outfit (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) during his police custody over the last two weeks,” city Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi told reporters here.

The 24-year-old executive in a private firm was arrested Dec 14 and a case was registered against him under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Information Technology (IT) Act for waging war against a friendly country.

“With the help of social media experts, we have so far analysed about 12,000 messages Mehdi tweeted/posted on his Facebook account, in which he encouraged youth to join ISIS though it is difficult to establish if recruitment took place,” Reddi said.

British News Channel 4 Dec 11 unmasked Mehdi as a radical supporter of ISIS through social media and Twitter handler @ShamiWitness where he was regularly tweeting from here on the group’s unlawful activities in Iraq and Syria.

“Investigation so far has revealed that Mehdi is a propagandist of ISIS ideology and has been instrumental in influencing minds against our friendly countries and against whom the terror group is at war,” Reddi said.

Mehdi, who hails from Gopalpur town in West Bengal’s Nadia district, is employed in the foods division of the Kolkata-based ITC Ltd here.

“We know Mehdi was in touch with one combatant in Iraq and was of some help to him, informing him of movement of forces and availability of passages. He is a highly radicalised person and has deep knowledge of what he was doing,” Reddi said.

Mehdi confessed to the investigation team that he had been operating the Twitter account after he got interested in the developments of the Levantine region comprising Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Gaza Strip, Egypt and Libya.

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

Mehdi’s Twitter handler was shut Dec 12 after the news channel revealed his identity and reported about the terror activities he was carrying in the virtual world beyond office hours.

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