Cops: Areeb, Masroor might have exchanged messages

Masroor told the court that Twitter was a public forum and that all his Tweets could be seen in the public domain.

By: Express News Service | Bangalore | Published:December 19, 2014 1:07 am

One of the three Kalyan youths, fighting for the ISIS in Syria, follows @ShamiWitness on Twitter, the account operated by Bangalore-based food manufacturing executive Mehdi Masroor Biswas, police told a special court on Thursday. Masroor, 24, was arrested last week.

Apart from putting out nearly 1.2 lakh tweets, Masroor also exchanged around 11,000 direct messages through his Twitter account and one of the persons with whom he communicated is suspected to be an Indian youth in Syria, recruited earlier this year along with three others from Maharashtra, the police said.

The crime branch police investigating the tweets by @ShamiWitness for terror-links, sought 25-day custody of Masroor, claiming that he needs to be taken to Mumbai to confront Areeb Majeed, the Kalyan youth who returned to India after having fought for ISIS.

“One of the four from Maharashtra who went to Syria to join ISIS followed the accused on Twitter. The accused might know the whereabouts of the other three. His custodial interrogation is necessary,’’ the police told a designated NIA court.

Special court judge Soma Raju, who questioned the necessity of the police to hold Masroor in custody for an extended period when most of the tweets by @ShamiWitness were in the public domain, granted 15 days custody. The police explained that as many as 11,000 messages were sent privately by @ShamiWitness and the identities of the persons with whom these messages were exchanged need to be identified in the presence of Masroor.

“There have been messages glorifying violence and suicide bombing in Syria. There has been direct messages with persons suspected to be fighting for the IS in Syria and Iraq, including Indians. All this has to be verified,’’ the police said.

In the course of their remand plea, the police told the court that they had received a soft copy of the direct messages exchanged by @ShamiWitness from Twitter.

While the police has been able to identify around 51 accounts with whom @ShamiWitness exchanged direct messages they need time to map all 11,000 direct messages.

Masroor, who has been cooperating in the investigation, claimed he would need time to identify persons and to explain the meaning and context of messages.

He told the court that Twitter was a public forum and that all his Tweets could be seen in the public domain. The police, however, also told the court that Masroor had not provided access to two of his email accounts claiming that he had forgotten their passwords. The police also reported to the court that they had seized data from the computer used by Masroor at his office.

The crime branch has booked Masroor under Section 125 of the Indian Penal Code for with a maximum punishment of seven years’ imprisonment and a fine.

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