IS tweets originate in City; police launch manhunt

British channel claims to have contacted the suspect

IS tweets originate in City; police launch manhunt

Stunned by a British channel report that a Bengaluru-based MNC employee was part of terror group Islamic State’s (IS) Twitter activities, the police launched a manhunt to nab the suspect on Friday.

A “Channel 4” report claimed that IS tweets were originating from Bengaluru, prompting the police to set up three crack teams to track down the owner of the Twitter handle “@shamiwitness”.

While Channel 4 claimed to have spoken to the suspect over phone, Police Commissioner M N Reddi said they were yet to track down the IP address. The suspect shut down the Twitter account after the channel contacted him.

Sources said the suspect is an employee of a multinational food company in Bengaluru. The suspect goes by the name Mehdi Masroor Biswas and is from West Bengal.

Reddi said: “We got to know about the report in the UK media about a Twitter account with a large following. Three teams from the central crime branch have been formed to track down the IP address and the suspect. We are yet to ascertain if he is in the City.”
Mehdi, an alumnus of West Bengal Institute of Technology, may have come to Bengaluru in 2011.

Sources in Kolkata claimed that the Bangalore Police detained Mehdi on December 10. They said during interrogation by the Bangalore Police, Mehdi said he was from a village in Murshidabad. But Bengal authorities found no village by that name.

A team of state intelligence department officials from Kolkata is likely to leave for Bengaluru on Saturday. “Most terror operatives apprehended in the last few days have some Bengal connection,” a senior official said in Kolkata. 

A Bengaluru official said Mehdi’s tweets reveal that he was popular among the British who supported IS. “The IS is estimated to have 21,000 such handles. It looks like @shamiwitness has been a hit among the British. The news report suggests that he had been in constant touch with the British fighters and used to update all IS activities,” the official added.

Despite sending around 140 tweets per day, exclusively on IS activities, the Bangalore Police and central intelligence agencies were caught unawares by the revelations on the British channel. The National Investigation Agency has also joined the probe.

Sources confirmed that Mehdi also ran a blog. On his blog and Twitter handle, Mehdi states, “Blog is dedicated to news and analysis related to the free people of this planet, specially the ones throwing away tyranny in Bilad ash Sham.”

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