Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a 24-year-old employee of a multinational company in Bangalore, who U.K.’s Channel 4 reported was the man behind an influential Twitter account sympathetic to the Islamic State group, has denied being a supporter of the Sunni militant group.
On Friday, a day after the Channel 4 report was released, Bangalore police said they were on his trail. The Hindu newspaper reported that local police had formed a special team to track down the man, identified as “Mehdi,” who ran the Twitter handle @ShamiWitness. Indian officials were also likely to write to Twitter and Google to track him down, the report added. The Twitter account, which Biswas has denied operating, has since been shut down.
“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,” The Indian Express, a national daily, quoted Biswas as saying, adding that he belongs to the eastern Indian city of Kolkata.
“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,” he was further quoted as saying.
Another report in The Indian Express said that Indian agencies had been aware of the Twitter account since 2009, but had found no direct link between the account and ISIS.
Another report, in The Times of India, said that India’s National Investigation Agency may have had some prior information that a man from Bangalore was running the account. The newspaper said that Arib Majeed, an ISIS recruit who was deported from Turkey, had told NIA about the Twitter handle during interrogation.