Amid reports that the terror groups were “luring” and “inducting” vulnerable youths into their fold through social media and networking sites, the Kolkata Police has decided to recruit around 100 software and networking experts on contract for its Special Task Force (STF), that will keep an eye on such activities on the Internet.
The West Bengal Home Department has given its green signal to the Kolkata Police for an immediate recruitment of 40 such experts on contract in the initial stage. The move was initiated after Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar stressed on the need for better monitoring of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter where the police believe terror groups “spot” potential recruits.
As per the sources, this team will create algorithms, which will seek and isolate key words, decided by the officers, and then inform the police team with regard to terror suspects.
Kumar, meanwhile, emphasized the need to keep a tab on hackers, and networking software and hardware. “Suspected Facebook and Twitter accounts will be screened on a regular basis,” he said.
A source added, “The idea is to stop these youths before they get radicalised. Among the terror groups, the Islamic State (IS) has a specific formula. They want to attach themselves to young men who have problems and are looking for something to give them a structure in their life.”
In the past, Kumar claimed, the police had monitored the activity and movement of three youths through such internet surveillance, and had in the process found that they were preparing to move to Syria after being wooed by IS leaders via Facebook. “We had monitored movement of the three youths through Internet surveillance and found that they were preparing to visit Syria. We stopped them through proper counselling,” the officer said.
The STF had also, a few years ago, dissuaded a Kolkata-based girl from visiting Karachi where her Facebook friend, a Pakistani spy, with whom she fell in love, lived. “The girl was studying engineering in a reputed college and the Pakistani spy befriended her through Facebook and lured her to come to Pakistan. She had been desperate to visit the neighbouring country, and in fact made all the arrangements,” the officer said.
The girl’s father, an officer in the state agriculture department, had approached the police who after vigorous counselling successfully managed to convince the girl about the true identity of her friend.
In December, 2014, the NIA arrested Mehdi Masroor Biswas, an electrical engineer posted in Birbhum who hailed from Bangalore, as he was tweeting to recruit for the IS.
Meanwhile, officials said that the Kolkata Police will recruit another 60 persons, including a few chartered accountants, to monitor crimes like bank frauds and share market-related wrong-doings. Kumar during his earlier stint as the Joint Commissioner of Police in charge of the STF in 2009 had employed ethical hackers. According to sources in the Kolkata Police, the data gathered and the results of monitoring of suspected accounts would be shared with other law-enforcement agencies like the National Investigation Agency.