The most influential pro-Islamic State (IS) Twitter account was found to be operated by an Indian executive working out of Bangalore, a report by Britain’s Channel 4 News has claimed.
After the airport was aired, the Crime branch of the Bangalore police today launched a probe to look into its veracity regarding the IT city’s link with the Twitter account that is followed by foreign jihadis.
The British news broadcaster named the pro-jihad tweeter “@ShamiWitness”, who had been anonymously operating the account, as “Mehdi”, but did not reveal his full name as he said his life would be in danger. A total of 39 Indian workers are still under the captivity of the deadly IS.
The account was shut down after the report surfaced.
In its report, ‘Channel 4’ yesterday said that the man operating the account is an executive in the city working for an Indian conglomerate.
“He has until now been able to remain anonymous, avoiding questions about his motives and his central role in the Islamic State’s propaganda war, but a Channel 4 News investigation can today reveal that the man operating the account is called Mehdi and he is an executive in Bangalore working for an Indian conglomerate,” the report claimed.
“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,” it said.
Bangalore Police said it had received the information in the morning on the report.
“We have asked the crime branch to look into the veracity of the report. Whatever action is to be taken, will be taken,” City Police Commissioner M N Reddi told reporters.
“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 said.
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, some times these reports are true, some times 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.”
The Channel 4 report quoted the Twitter account operator as saying that he had not joined IS jihadist ranks in Iraq and Syria because his family was financially dependent on him.
“If I had a chance to leave everything and join them I might have,” he was quoted as saying.
The Shami Witness tweets contained jihadist propaganda as well as information for would-be recruits and messages praising fighters who have been killed as martyrs.
The IS militant group has made extensive use of social media for propaganda and recruitment, as well as for disseminating gory execution videos.