In a sensational revelation, a report on Friday said a Bengaluru-based Indian executive could be one of the biggest online recruiters for terror group Islamic State.
According to Britain’s Channel 4 News, the “man behind the most influential IS Twitter account” is called “Mehdi” and he is an executive in Bengaluru working for an Indian conglomerate. (Channel 4 News has chosen not to reveal his full name as he says his life would be in danger if his true identity was made public.)
“His tweets, written under the name Shami Witness, were seen two million times each month, making him perhaps the most influential Islamic State Twitter account, with over 17,700 followers,” the channel says.
Crime branch of the Bengaluru Police has launched a probe into the veracity of the British media report. “We have received the information in the morning on this. We have asked the crime branch to look into the veracity of the report. Whatever action is to be taken, will be taken,” said City Police Commissioner MN Reddi.
“Just as you have received a report, I have received it. There is a report. I confirm there is a report. We have taken note of this information and our crime branch is on the job to look into the veracity and if so what needs to be done,” he added.
Replying to a question if the city police was in contact with central agencies like NIA and IB on this, Reddi said “We are all in touch.”
Responding to another question, he said, “We often get inputs on the presence of the sleeper cells, sometimes these reports are true, sometimes they turn out to be false. But we take all such inputs seriously.”
“We go to the bottom of such inputs to check whether the input is true or false, and we work on the basis of it.”
Notably, Shami Witness, “the most influential pro-Islamic State Twitter account to be followed by foreign jihadis” is no more active after the probe uncovered the identity of the man behind it.
The channel claims that Mehdi used to spend his day “sending thousands of tweets of propaganda about the Islamic State militant group, acting as the leading conduit of information between jihadis, supporters, and recruits.”
As per a recent report by the Brookings Institute, social media is “one of the key organisational strengths of the Islamic State”. Quoting the report, the channel says the group uses such channels “to spread and legitimise IS’s ideology, activities, and objectives, and to recruit and acquire international support.”
“Two thirds of all foreign fighters on Twitter followed him (Shami Witness). When a fighter’s Twitter account is suspended, he often promoted the new one and urged people to follow it,” the channel further claims.
Not just this, Mehdi was in regular touch of British jihadis, and used to hail them as martyrs if they died.
His family is the reason why Mehdi could not join Islamic State himself. “If I had a chance to leave everything and join them I might have.. my family needs me here.”