A man who allegedly ran a popular pro-Islamic State Twitter account called @ShamiWitness has been arrested in southern India, according to police.
Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a 24-year-old executive in Bangalore working for an Indian company, was arrested Saturday morning at his home in Bengaluru after the British Channel 4 News identified the man running the account.
The @ShamiWitness account, which has since been deleted, provided news on IS and was popular in Syria and Iraq.
Bangalore Police Commissioner M.N. Reddy told reporters that Biswas was being questioned by authorities.
Police said Biswas was arrested for cyber-terrorism offenses and crimes against the state, but they do not have evidence so far that shows he has actual links to IS, the BBC reports.
“He was particularly close to the English-speaking terrorists of ISIS and became a source of incitement and information for the new recruits trying to join ISIS/ISIL,” Reddi told the Daily Mail.
According to Channel 4, Biswas’ tweets were seen two millions times each month, making him the most influential IS Twitter account, with nearly 18,000 followers. The channel described Shami Witness as the “leading conduit of information between jihadis, supporters and recruits.”
(via Channel 4 News)
In an interview with Channel 4 this week, Mehdi said he would have liked to join the Islamic State, but his family were financially dependent on him.
"If I had a chance to leave everything and join them I might have.. my family needs me here,” he said.
A report by the Brookings Institute found that the Islamic State embraces social media, like Twitter and YouTube, finding that it uses such platforms "to spread and legitimise IS's ideology, activities, and objectives, and to recruit and acquire international support."