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

Kolkata engineer Mehdi Masroor Biswas speaks to The Indian Express.

Written by Subrata Nagchowdhury | Kolkata | Updated: December 13, 2014 8:33 am
The account, which is now no longer operative, had over 17,700 followers, making him "perhaps the most influential Islamic State Twitter account" The account, which is now no longer operative, had over 17,700 followers, making him “perhaps the most influential Islamic State Twitter account”

Outed by UK’s Channel 4 as the man behind @ShamiWitness, the pro-jihadi Twitter handle followed by thousands of Islamic State supporters, and with the police closing in, Mehdi Masroor Biswas, 24, has begun to panic.

In a shaky voice, Biswas told The Indian Express from Bangalore, where he works for a giant food conglomerate, that his claims to Channel 4 about his support for IS — and its executions  and beheadings — was a ruse to get the reporter off his back.

“I did tell Channel 4 that I believe beheading is part of Islam. It does not mean I believe in beheading. I never told them that I believe in beheading. That was misconstrued. They have made things complicated by airing the programme,” Biswas, who is from Kolkata, said. “Now, I am getting to hear that police might manhandle me. That’s made me worried.”

khilafaOn Friday morning, India had woken up to a report from the British public-service television broadcaster which said that they had tracked down the man behind the popular @ShamiWitness, an articulate and prolific tweeter who is seen across the world as an authority on Islamic State, the jihadi group that now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq.

His name is Mehdi, and he is from Bangalore, the report said. They tracked him down, they said, after discovering that @ShamiWitness had used a personal email address, ElSaltador@gmail.com, to set up a personal Twitter account, @ElSaltador.

“When Channel 4 called me first and asked if @ShamiWitness was my Twitter handle, I did not oppose it… my outright rejection would not have convinced them. I therefore decided to admit that I was indeed @ShamiWitness in the hope that they would not air the programme,” Masroor told The Indian Express.

“But I am telling you that I am not @ShamiWitness. Somebody must have hacked my email account which I used as ElSaltador@ gmail.com and used it to upload stuff. I have been framed. Someone must have planted this,” he added.

“I am not a member of any organisation that should evoke suspicion. I go to office and return to my residence… I have not told my office about these developments and the interview so that they don’t get the wrong impression and complicate matters,” he said.

Masroor added that he joined this company (name withheld) “in June 2012 as an in-plant trainee and was absorbed as a manufacturing executive and confirmed in service in March 2013. I am happy in my job.”

In Kolkata, at Masroor’s Kaikhali home in Biman Nagar, his parents are also tense. They came to know about the furore over @ShamiWitness only when this reporter approached them for an interview.

Masroor’s father, Dr. Mekail Biswas, practises homoeopathy after retiring as an assistant engineer of the West Bengal State Electricity Board. His mother is a housewife who often visits her son in Banglaore – she says she was with him just a few days ago.

“You know being Muslim, we are easily identified as terrorists,” said Dr Mekail. “The days are so hard now. But I can tell you that my son in innocent and has done nothing wrong. If he has landed in trouble it is because some enemy is after him.”

Following the stir created by Channel 4, the police net was closing in, although intelligence sources said they had not found any direct link between @ShamiWitness and Islamic State.

By evening, officials from central police agencies reached Guru Nanak Institute of Technology at Nilgunge Road in Panihati, Sodepur, in the northern outskirts of Kolkata, where Masroor had graduated in Electrical Engineering two years ago.

There, the institute’s registrar A Chakrabarty told the investigators that over 2000 students graduated from the institute every year and it was difficult to recollect this particular name. The policemen left, taking with them a photograph of Masroor.

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  1. I
    Indian
    Dec 13, 2014 at 7:28 pm
    its all a hoax. were indian authorities sleeping till Channel 4 aired the interview ?
    Reply
    1. R
      RimP
      Dec 13, 2014 at 10:13 pm
      People like you should be banned from commenting. Calling our PM a terrorist, only in India you can get away it, if you were in a Muslim country we would watching your beheading in national news. So please shut up! No Muslim card, India will not tolerate it anymore!
      Reply
      1. G
        Guest
        Dec 13, 2014 at 9:32 am
        Terrorism is defined as a policy to get ones agenda by creating terror in the society through unlawful violent means by typically waging war against the state. Riots and acts of terrorism are different. Narinder Modi is not a terrorist and he does not need to wage war against the state to implement his policies either in Gujarat or in India. He was in power in Gujarat and is in power in India. Gujarat Riots were sporadic retaliation against the pre-planned Godhra Terrorism. riots were shameful but the riots were not terrorist acts, Godhra was. There is no rationalization of ISIS killings or it's supporters, they are pure evil. I am surprised how a youth of 24 years age be indoctrined by a medieval age propaa. There people have lost all kinds of rational or scientific thinking.
        Reply
        1. A
          Arun Visvanathan
          Dec 13, 2014 at 2:58 am
          It should be easy to identify the IP address from which the tweets have been sent and determine whether they have indeed originated from this guy. But which law exactly has he violated other than probably 66A.
          Reply
          1. B
            Beyond Good
            Dec 13, 2014 at 6:24 am
            Let the police and the Intelligence agencies investigate the case, cause this guy might have set up this account just to troll or might have given support to the group...Let us ume that a Hindu was supporting a terrorist group say like LTTE (Tamil cause) but never spread terror but was actively supported their cause.... does that make the person a terrorist...We have to see to what level has this guy been brainwashed by this Jihadi concept and how big a threat he is to the security of the country.But this is for sure that this educated guy has lost his future by this stupidity...If found guilty of spreading terror either actively or pively throw his @$$ in jail!!
            Reply
            1. S
              Subhash Bennur
              Dec 14, 2014 at 4:16 am
              Masroor must fear not just police but 125 cr people of the country!
              Reply
              1. B
                Bill Joe
                Dec 13, 2014 at 8:32 am
                hey you! yes you IS terrorist get the outta here you pedo keyboard warrior, I will trace your IP address and report it to the police and they will hunt you down.
                Reply
                1. D
                  Dan
                  Dec 13, 2014 at 12:02 am
                  Using your personal email to set up an extremist twitter account.. smart move.
                  Reply
                  1. D
                    desi munda
                    Dec 13, 2014 at 9:09 pm
                    he is right ..dian express is know to be sympathetic to islamic terrorists and also was against hanging of kasab n afzal guru .. in fact it strived to publish views of arundhati roy ... stanis to cancel the death sentences !
                    Reply
                    1. D
                      DA
                      Dec 13, 2014 at 7:18 pm
                      All that bravado comes crashing down, and this chap is scared of Bangalore police! Karnataka is a congress ruled state, and the CM will probably name a scholarship in his name. The cops will keep in a guest house, feed him cake and biscuits, and gently persuade him to adopt a story which does not bring India and Indian Muslims a "bad name".
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        dhiraj kumar
                        Dec 13, 2014 at 3:11 am
                        Typical denial mode and playing muslim card.Sickular congress party might award him
                        Reply
                        1. V
                          Vinod Gohel
                          Dec 13, 2014 at 10:49 am
                          IP addresses of all Tim Tu kind demons should be traced out and they all should be punished so harshly that they forget for ever to spread hatred on the name of community or religion. Tim Tus are too small creatures to understand Modi.
                          Reply
                          1. R
                            Raj Nair
                            Dec 13, 2014 at 6:21 am
                            Is he crazy. What was he thinking. On one hand he was celebrating the killingof innocent people in far away land and here in India he was living a cowardlydouble standard life. Shame on him. He should be arrestedand put behind bars. The w episode gets to show our law makers have to be more vigilant when it comes to social media.
                            Reply
                            1. T
                              Tim Tu
                              Dec 13, 2014 at 7:25 am
                              A known terrorist can become Prime minister of India and he gets away with slaughter of 1000s of innocent people but a young boy is being chased by all the security agencies of India for tweeting. Bloody bunch of s.
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                ah
                                Dec 13, 2014 at 4:16 am
                                IS is western stooge ........ the west is in FULL PROPAA mode to blunt out cry against Torture Report of CIA, this is a scapegoat in that campaign and INDIA is extension of the West Propaa. I know how WEST and EAST both behave with MUSLIMS ......... same pattern of West is followed in East ......... it all started in KILLING of Muslims in Serbia and has continued since and followed up by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus .................... the proof that IS is western stooge is HERE ...... there are 30000 IS Volunteer Jihadist who are not Professional Soldiers against 150000 Iraqi troops, 100000 Syrian Troops, Hezbollah, Irani Coverts, Anti IS Sunni Militias, Shia Militias, Air support from US,Francs, Britain, Australia .......... it means they are outnunmered 100 to 1 and still they are WINNING or maintaining Staus Quo ....... which is impossible for any army ...................................
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                                1. A
                                  ah
                                  Dec 13, 2014 at 4:44 am
                                  Indians are afraid of anonymos twitter but not afraid of those who OPENLY Praise Godse, or call other Haram zaade or who want to send to stan all those who do not VOTE for MODI.
                                  Reply
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                                    garam hawa
                                    Dec 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm
                                    hmm how u know as to what level he is brainwashed ? by waiting to see how many non muslims he is going to behead ? there are millions like him in india who are just waiting for pristan or ISIS to give them guns n start killing indians !
                                    Reply
                                    1. G
                                      Gautam
                                      Dec 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm
                                      The only terrorism involved in the 2002 riots was the bombing of the Sabarmati Express. Now Supreme Court investigations have already given us the verdicts for both the train bombing and the riots.Your BS is eaten only be fellow jihadis and secular terrorists like yourself and your Congressi friends.
                                      Reply
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                                        george bush
                                        Dec 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm
                                        Plzz do so ... pigs like him need to be punished severely ...these stupid online jihadi will act as nomral humans in public life and become violent jihadis online
                                        Reply
                                        1. H
                                          harith
                                          Dec 13, 2014 at 11:39 pm
                                          if you talk too much and pretend the cunning innocence, you also will be booked; be careful
                                          Reply
                                          1. H
                                            harith
                                            Dec 13, 2014 at 9:30 pm
                                            this terrorist pig considers beheading as an integral part of Islam; but, he fears for manhandling by police; so, other human beings can tortured inhumanly by ISIS in the name of terrorist khaliphat; but, his body cant even handle a pin prick; what a pity is this? Cops better send this terrorist to Guantanoma Bay or Russian interrogators in Cold Siberia; they will show him both heaven and every day; rogue; he got decent education, job, family and every thing; and, he doesnt want all these; he wants terrorism and killing others; enough; this fellow and also the other ISIS terrorist who returned are similar and both must spend rest of their life in prison or better be hanged till death
                                            Reply
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