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Bengaluru: Mehdi Masroor Biswas convicted under UAPA, used to run ISIS promoting Twitter handle ‘shamiwitness’ to recruit terrorists

Back in 2014, OpIndia reported that on Facebook, where the ISIS sympathiser would post as Mehdi, his real name, he used to post updates about city life and pizzas he ate and other such daily life events, while on Twitter he would transform into a bloodthirsty Jehadi who wanted the entire world to be ruled by the Caliph Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.

On Tuesday (16th January), the special court for cases probed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) convicted Mehdi Masroor Biswas of supporting terror operations by posting content in support of ISIS on X  (formerly Twitter) between 2012 and 2014 and recruiting cadres. The quantum of punishment will be announced on Friday (19th January). 

On Tuesday, a Bengaluru special court for terrorism cases convicted Biswas on terrorist charges under Sections 13, 18, and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. He was additionally convicted under Section 125 of the Indian Penal Code for attempting to wage war against an “Asiatic Power in alliance or at peace with the Government of India,” which carries a seven-year prison sentence, as well as under IPC Sections 153 A for promoting enmity between groups and 505 for making statements conducive to public mischief.

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who went by the username @shamiwitness on X, used his social media handle to sympathise with the terrorist organisation during the early days of ISIS in Syria in 2014.

Mehdi Biswas was arrested in Bengaluru on December 13, 2014, at the age of 24. Following the revelation by the UK’s Channel 4 that he was the person behind the @shamiwitness handle, which assisted British IS recruits in joining ISIS (then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Syria, he was arrested from his flat in Jalahalli. He was arrested in a joint operation by the Bengaluru Central Crime Branch police and the Internal Security Department.

MK Thammaiah, the then-assistant commissioner of police (CCB) and investigating officer, stated that Biswas’ retrieved tweets and retweets played a critical part in his conviction. “In all, he had made 1,22,208 tweets and most of them were related to IS activities. Along with the tweets, he had posted (deleted later and retrieved during the investigation) 15,500 images,” Thammaiah said, adding that at first, Biswas supported the Jama’at Nusrat Al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM). “When IS gained popularity, Biswas started supporting it and urged JNIM leaders to join forces with IS. He was in touch with 88 men who were identified as terror suspects from Syria and other countries,” he added.

Notably, the Central Crime Branch police filed a 36,986-page chargesheet against Biswas in June 2015. Although he was never physically associated with the Islamic State, Biswas acquired information about the terrorist organisation by spending hours compiling data on radical Islamic activity in the Middle East and disseminating it via the @shamiwitness handle.

Mehdi Biswas was also accused of predicting on Twitter the beheadings of US journalist James Foley and UK aid worker Peter Kassig just weeks before the Islamic State executed them. He was also accused of advocating for IS support in Kashmir, tweeting that the terrorists in Kashmir were martyrs.

Back in 2014, OpIndia reported that on Facebook, where the ISIS sympathiser would post as Mehdi, his real name, he used to post updates about city life and pizzas he ate and other such daily life events, while on Twitter he would transform into a bloodthirsty Jehadi who wanted the entire world to be ruled by the Caliph Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the head of ISIS.

Unsurprisingly, Mehdi Biswas had received support from Indian liberals back in 2014 drawing false equivalence between the IS propagandist and random internet Hindu accounts in their attempts to prove Mehdi Biswas as “just another Twitter user”.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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