NIA to probe Bengaluru man for alleged role in Islamic State recruitment

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.

NIA to probe Bengaluru man for alleged role in Islamic State recruitment

New Delhi: The National Investigating Agency (NIA) is all set to probe a Bengaluru-based Indian executive who could be one of the biggest online recruiters for terror group Islamic State.

A report on Friday stated that the Indian executive could be recruiting for Islamic State terror group in the country.

NIA, country's top federal agency, meant to combat terror will take forward the case as Areeb Majeed, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) returnee was following the particular Twitter handle.

Majeed was arrested on his return to Mumbai after spending nearly six months in Iraq. He was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) on charges of conspiring to commit a terrorist act and being a member of a banned foreign terror outfit, and under the stringent Section 125 of the IPC for “waging war against the nation”.

Majeed, suspected member of terror outfit ISIS, revealed the names of the local contacts, who allegedly provided him the logistics to join the group to take part in the battle in Iraq, NIA officials said.

In May this year, four youths from Kalyan town — Majeed, Shaheen Tanki, Fahad Shaikh and Aman Tandel — had left India to visit holy places in West Asia, but disappeared thereafter. They were suspected to have joined the ISIS.

Reports say that the security agency was aware of the particular Twitter account, however, it is yet to ascertain whether the individual operating is based in Bangalore.

NIA suspects Mehdi - "man behind the most influential IS Twitter account” may be involved to recruit Indians for the dreaded terror outfit which has caused mayhem across Iraq.

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," City Police Commissioner MN Reddi told reporters here.

"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, some times these reports are true, some times they turnout 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."

On @ShamiWitness Twitter account, Mehdi used to post thousands of updates every month, usually from his cellphone.

He tweeted the video of the execution of US aid worker Peter Kassig five times.

"May allah guide, protect, strengthen and expand the Islamic State ... Islamic State brought peace, autonomy, zero corruption, low crime-rate", he wrote on Twitter in November.

As far as his Facebook pages is concerned, the man “regularly shares jokes, funny images and talks about superhero movies, posting pictures of pizza dinners with friends, and Hawaiian parties at work.”

However, conversations regarding uprisings in Libya and Egypt indicate his Islamist ideology.