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Dec 13, 2014 7:00 PM

India questions man over pro-Islamic State tweets

The Associated Press

BANGALORE, India (AP) Police in southern India questioned a man who they say acknowledged to running a popular pro-Islamic State group Twitter account but appears to have no direct links to the militant group.

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a 24-year-old engineer, was questioned by authorities Saturday, Bangalore's top police official, M.N. Reddy, told reporters. He said police have no evidence directly linking him to militants.

"He appears to have been only majorly active in the virtual world," Reddy said.

Britain's Channel 4 on Friday uncovered the identity of the man who it said used the Twitter account @shamiwitness.

The account has been deleted, but Channel 4 described Biswas as one of the militant group's most influential Twitter supporters, with 17,000 followers and more than 2 million views each month. Shami Witness was a "leading conduit of information between jihadis, supporters and recruits," it said.

According to the investigation, Biswas "never recruited anyone or facilitated any such activity in India," and had never traveled outside of India, Reddy said.

The Islamic State group, which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria and declared a self-styled caliphate, or Islamic empire, in areas under its control, embraces social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.

Hollywood-style film clips and other elements of its media campaign boost the group's credibility among disaffected but plugged-in young Muslims, and helps it promote its conquests, inspire sympathizers and attract new recruits.

Bangalore police said they had seized Biswas's phone and computer for further investigation.


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