Indian police are investigating a person alleged to be behind an influential Twitter account supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed group, after a news report revealed that the account was being run by a business executive from Bangalore.
On Thursday, Britain’s Channel 4 News named the tweeter “@ShamiWitness” as “Mehdi”, but did not reveal his full name as he said his life would be in danger. The channel also reported that Mehdi “is an executive in Bangalore working for an Indian conglomerate”.
In an audio clipping posted on the broadcaster’s website on Friday, “Mehdi” says that he is ready to surrender, but that he feared that the police would kill him.
Thursday’s report quoted him as saying that he had not joined ISIL in Iraq and Syria because his family was financially dependent on him.
Account shut down
“If I had a chance to leave everything and join them I might have,” he was quoted as saying.
The account, which had 17,700 followers including many foreign fighters, was shut down following the Channel 4 report.
“I have seen the report as you have,” Bangalore police commissioner MN Reddi said at a media briefing on Friday.
“We have taken note of it and are investigating the matter. We are ready to face any threat perception to the city. We have set up a special team to study the report and trace the culprit,” he said.
The Shami Witness tweets contained propaganda as well as information for would-be recruits and messages praising fighters killed as “martyrs”.
ISIL has made extensive use of social media for propaganda and recruitment, as well as for disseminating grisly execution videos.
A number of social media platforms have shut down accounts linked to the armed group.