Masroor arrested, but police say his terror was more virtual than real

‘Alleged creator of pro-Islamic State @ShamiWitness deeply invested in Islam, his Twitter handle’.

By: Press Trust of India Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore | Updated: December 14, 2014 4:17 am
Mehdi Masroor Biswas’s parents look at his picture on a mobile phone at their home in Kaikhali, near Dum Dum airport, on Saturday morning. (Source: Express photo by Subham Dutta). Mehdi Masroor Biswas’s parents look at his picture on a mobile phone at their home in Kaikhali, near Dum Dum airport, on Saturday morning. (Source: Express photo by Subham Dutta).

Twenty-four-year-old manufacturing executive Mehdi Masroor Biswas was never associated with the Islamic State (IS), but had gathered knowledge about the group by spending hours aggregating information about its campaign in the Middle East, Bangalore Police Commissioner M N Reddi said on Saturday.

READ:  Mehdi Biswas’ father says he is not aware of arrest

Masroor put out this knowledge on the Twitter handle @ShamiWitness, which was followed by the top fighters of the IS and other jihadis.

Masroor, who was outed by the UK’s Channel 4 as the individual behind @ShamiWitness on Friday, was arrested from his one-room apartment in Ayyappanagar in Jalahalli area of North Bangalore in the early hours of Saturday. He has confessed to running the Twitter account, Reddi said.

READ: His pro-Islamic State Twitter handle traced, man in Bangalore says he fears police

Hours before Masroor was picked up, The Indian Express spoke to him over the phone from Kolkata. He said he had spoken to Channel 4, but had lied — and that he was not @ShamiWitness. He also said he was afraid the police would beat him.

READ: Agencies find no direct link between @ShamiWitness, IS 

The Twitter handles of nearly a dozen pro-IS Indian-origin supporters, however, remained relatively silent on the arrest. The Twitter handles of nearly a dozen pro-IS Indian-origin supporters, however, remained relatively silent on the arrest.

Investigators seized two mobile phones and a laptop from Masroor’s residence, and efforts were on to obtain the computer log to verify the electronic links between him and the @ShamiWitness Twitter handle. Police were seeking the co-operation of Twitter, the commissioner said.

Masroor has been booked under IPC 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 in jail and fine. NIA invoked the same section against Mumbai youth Areeb Majeed, who recently returned after reportedly training with and fighting alongside the IS in Iraq and Syria.

Masroor has also been booked under section 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004 for supporting a terrorist organisation, and section 66 of the IT Act, 2000 for computer-related offences.

Police sources involved with the interrogation described Masroor as “very emotionally invested in the cause of Islam”, and obsessed with posting from the handle. “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,” said a top source. He had no social life, and no girlfriend, the source said.

“But he did not take any concrete step to actually join the outfit,” the officer added.

Commissioner Reddi said Masroor “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 earning Rs 5.3 lakh per annum, spent hours on the Internet looking at information on jihadi activities in the Middle East, police said. He allegedly aggregated information put out in Arabic and translated it into English using online translation tools, before tweeting it. He also tweeted his own interpretations of events and situations, Reddi said.

“He got interested in the Levant or al-Shams region consisting of countries like Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon from 2009. He would be active on the 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,” Reddi said.

According to the police, Masroor became close to English-speaking jihadis of the IS, and a source of incitement and information for new recruits. “Through his social media propaganda he abetted ISIS in its agenda to wage war against the Asiatic powers,” the police said.

Investigators said Masroor appeared to have been confident that he would never be detected. After being outed, he made no attempt to run, but he \deleted all records of his links to the @ShamiWitness account from his computer logs before police arrived at his apartment.

Masroor’s alleged confession that he was @ShamiWitness will not alone be sufficient for police to build a case in court against him. Masroor, a qualified engineer, is believed to have used proxy servers to camouflage his identity and location while putting out messages on Twitter over the past few years.
“He believes he has not done anything illegal in India. He did not tweet messages targeting India,” an officer said.

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First Published on: December 13, 2014 11:59 am
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    Biswajit
    Jan 11, 2015 at 5:00 pm
    It is very unfortunate that an educated Muslim like Masroor was brainwashed by savage ISIS. He could have worked for better education for his fellow community members instead of supporting a organization which is damaging their religious retion to the world.
    Reply
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      joey V
      May 17, 2015 at 5:19 pm
      yeah, the same thing use to happen to the Jews. White supremacy means white religion (Christianity & no Mosques), White clothes (no Burqa), White food (no halal), You can fight and bomb for the allies but if you do it to defend your home in the Middle East your a terrorist. White wars with imperialism and invasion vs dying or fighting.
      Reply
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        Ruth Mesa
        Dec 13, 2014 at 1:18 pm
        He was seen with KMMM .He hated Sufis, Shia and Yazidis and Christians of the region.Her supported Al Qaieda faction Al-Nusra.He particularly high lighted Beheadings and Advocated Beheadings of Kuffars.
        Reply
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          Amit
          Dec 14, 2014 at 5:31 am
          The secular tribe is preparing the ground for his release like they did for Majid. These secularists and liberals the biggest threat to our security and well being.
          Reply
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            abdul
            Dec 14, 2014 at 7:12 am
            Your knowledge about the Quran is so weak. First read Quran thoroughly before making such statement. It is the only religious book on the face of earth which says“if any one slew a person … it would be as if he slew the w humanity: and if any one saved a person, it would be as if he saved the w humanity”.It is the only book which is in purity form and unchanged even after 1400 years. And it will be the same till the kiyamah as promised by Almighty Allah.
            Reply
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              a
              Dec 13, 2014 at 11:18 am
              Good catch and thanks for public display of alleged terrorist. Now he should be made to answer his dual personality trait of pub hopping and jihadist.
              Reply
              1. A
                ABS
                Dec 14, 2014 at 6:11 am
                On 9th Dec-14 Indian Express has come-up with the below article for Areeb Majeed"Before ISIS, the 4 from Kalyan: reserved, sportsman, extrovert, studious"Just wait for the same for Mehdi Masroor Biswas’s in coming weeks
                Reply
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                  Ravindra Agrawal
                  Dec 13, 2014 at 6:47 am
                  Bechara Innocent.......just as ISIS is innocent, Indian Express should pray for him.
                  Reply
                  1. J
                    JYOSHI J
                    Dec 14, 2014 at 4:52 am
                    FreeCharge promocode RPZSEGT & get Rs.50 Instant Cashback on your next Mobile Recharge. Code valid only once per debit/credit card & user. s:www.freechargedotin
                    Reply
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                      Benoit Mandelbrot
                      Dec 14, 2014 at 4:41 am
                      Why the media always run towards accused family for soundbites, especially if a crime related to a Muslim then you morons definitely wants a soundbite from their families.
                      Reply
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                        Beyond Good
                        Dec 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm
                        His knowledge abt Quran might be good (which I highly suspect) but his knowledge abt the Indian Penal Code is poor!Now, when the LAW shows its ugly face to him lets see how far does his faith support him!!
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                          Beyond Good
                          Dec 13, 2014 at 1:48 pm
                          Lets ban the w country itself ;)
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            Subhash Bennur
                            Dec 14, 2014 at 4:14 am
                            Karnataka police have wrongly interpreted as "Was not directly involved with the Islamic , but he was also mere sympathiser". Maroor said that he could have gone to ISIS if his family was not dependent on him. Commissioner Reddi, if you had kept quiet, understand, dunderhead that Masroor would have waged a war against India sitting in some god forsaken Islamic country. MN reddi must learn to keep his mouth shut and not shower his sitting on the fence comments on such serious happenings!
                            Reply
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                              Bhagavath B S
                              Dec 14, 2014 at 6:49 am
                              He and his family should be questioned, if found guilty then ,we need not required any al baghdadi supporter in india.
                              Reply
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                                S.Gonesh
                                Dec 13, 2014 at 7:09 am
                                Where is your Allah now, the mover of clouds?Is he deft? You all from Islam are fake, a desertoriented religion, based on the Jewish Old Testamentand promotor of HIMSA.
                                Reply
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                                  bruceben9
                                  Dec 13, 2014 at 8:18 am
                                  24 yr old youth? Wt f?
                                  Reply
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                                    Cleanmaster
                                    Dec 13, 2014 at 8:52 am
                                    Kick out all Bengladeshis, they had killed innocents Hindus during parion and still they are killing Muslims are Muslims namak haram. The s criminals Congress and other politicians are shouting for reconverting them to Hinduism, what happen when Hindus were converted into Christianity and Islam after Parion, how easten indian state are christians.KILL KILL ALL CONGRESS AND POLITICIANS SAVE HINDUISM, PROHIBIT CONVERSION OF HINDUS SINCE 1947, P NON CONVERSTION HINDU BILL. NOT ALLOWING HINDUS TO CONVERT BUT OTHER CAN CONVERT TO HINDUIS, BOMB THE CONGRESS AND REST POLITICIANS. JAI HO NATHURAM GODSE. ALL HINDU BECOME NATHURAM GODSE. SAVE HINDUISM FROM CONGRESS AND SONIA,
                                    Reply
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                                      cooldude
                                      Dec 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm
                                      Spin looks likt u read too much TOI. the guy worked for ITC and not Infy
                                      Reply
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                                        ashu
                                        Dec 14, 2014 at 11:57 am
                                        all you guys are smart enough to know the truth. So please stop barking. Hindu this Muslim that christian this sikhs that . what the f is wrong with your minds. Stop spreading garbage and be the true Indian. Prove the world by showing them our tolerance. And as for this fker above , i believe he didnt get enough hardship in life. And when things be easy , people get arrogant and forget God. Jai Bharath, Jai Hind, I love you my Mother country India , Now and Always.
                                        Reply
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                                          Purna Varma
                                          Dec 13, 2014 at 8:47 am
                                          @Sphinx ..... another troll from porkistan ..... does not know why he is here in this site!!! hehehehe
                                          Reply
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                                            Kolsat
                                            Dec 14, 2014 at 3:01 am
                                            Since India is not at war with any nations in the middle east anyone supporting those who are fighting against them and carrying out murders of men, women and children deserves severe punishment. This Biswas should be thrown in gaol for a long time and made to do menial tasks there.
                                            Reply
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