NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police on Saturday arrested a company executive suspected of operating a pro-Islamic State Twitter account that pumped out a stream of updates on the violent group’s military campaign from his base in Bengaluru.
Mehdi Masroor Biswas’s arrest at home came days after Britain’s Channel Four identified him as the man behind “Shami Witness”, the Twitter handle followed by thousands of people including most foreign fighters for the Islamic State.
Police said the 24-year-old used to post Twitter messages after office hours, cheering the Islamic State’s advances in Iraq and Syria, and mocking its enemies.
“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,” police commissioner M. N. Reddi told reporters.
Police have “registered a case” against him for abetting war against the state. But Mehdi’s father told Times Now Channel that his son was innocent and had been framed.
“My son is not linked to any jihadi group,” his father - whose identity was withheld - told the channel.
India has the world’s third-largest Muslim population, but police say only four men are known to have flown to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State. One has since returned and is in police custody.
But officials say it is hard to track the number of sympathizers of the Islamic State’s ideology as there is no central figure or recruiting authority.
Mehdi told Channel 4 in an interview this week that he would have liked to join the Islamic State but for his family who were dependent on him.
He regularly shared jokes, funny images and talked about superhero movies on his Facebook page, posting pictures of pizza dinners with friends and Hawaiian parties at work, the British channel said.
Reporting by Sanjeev Miglani; Additional reporting by Nidhi Verma and Siddarth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie