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Indian pro-IS tweeter @ShamiWitness arrested by police

Mehdi Masroor Biswas confessed to Indian police that he was responsible for the pro-IS account
Biswas' identity was exposed after Indian police were able to piece it together from the Channel 4 News report (Indian police)

Channel 4 News, in their investigation, reported Mehdi had interacted with British citizens before they left to join IS and later praised their efforts on the battlefield. When one young British man was killed fighting with IS he praised him as having “talked the talk, walked the walk.”

Mehdi denied influencing people to join IS but radicalisation experts said he could have been a source of justification for those seeking to sign up with the group.

“He was justifying and explaining ISIS [another acronym for IS] so that lots of people who were thinking of going to join ISIS could find the arguments and information to justify themselves and legitimise that choice,” Peter Neumann, the director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, told the New York Times.

Mehdi, when asked by Channel 4 if was “an honest Muslim”, said “I try to [be], but I am not sure if I am.”

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Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the Islamic State sympathiser and propagandist who tweeted under the name @ShamiWitness, was arrested on Saturday in Bangalore, India.

"Mehdi Biswas has confessed to the fact that he was operating Shami Witness Twitter account for the last many years," Bangalore police officer LR Pachuau told a press conference.

"He used to ferociously tweet by aggregating information and closely watching developments of this region," Pachau said.

Biswas was originally outed - simply as "Mehdi" - by the UK's Channel 4 News which aired on Thursday after an investigation by the channel. Indian police were shortly after able to determine the identity of Mehdi, which led to his arrest on Saturday.

On Thursday, he denied to Channel 4 that he would be liable for arrest in India.

"No I haven't done anything wrong. I haven't harmed anybody, I haven't broken any laws of the country," he said.

"I haven't raised any war or any violence against the public of India."

Mehdi's father told Times Now Channel on Saturday that his son was innocent and had been framed.

"My son is not linked to any jihadi group," said his father, whose identity was withheld by the channel.

Reactions to Biswas' arrest were varied on Twitter.

Some (including fellow IS supporters) sympathised with his plight, with some attempting to start a #FreeShamiWitness hashtag:

Conversely, many welcomed the arrest, including Kurds, who had previously been outraged by comments the tweeter had made about raping captured female Kurdish soldiers:

Ajai Sahni, executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management in Delhi, was quoted by Channel 4 News as saying that the entire judicial process in India is "punishment by trial" and that the prospects of conviction were slim.

"The trial process is extremely arduous. It could take 10 to 15 years just going through the courts," Dr Sahni said.

"It would all depend on how he involved he is and whether the tweets demonstrate incitement to hatred. There is a law of waging a war against a friendly country, but IS is not a banned group in India."

Channel 4 News, in their investigation, reported Mehdi had interacted with British citizens before they left to join IS and later praised their efforts on the battlefield. When one young British man was killed fighting with IS he praised him as having “talked the talk, walked the walk.”

Mehdi denied influencing people to join IS but radicalisation experts said he could have been a source of justification for those seeking to sign up with the group.

“He was justifying and explaining ISIS [another acronym for IS] so that lots of people who were thinking of going to join ISIS could find the arguments and information to justify themselves and legitimise that choice,” Peter Neumann, the director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, told the New York Times.

Mehdi, when asked by Channel 4 if was “an honest Muslim”, said “I try to [be], but I am not sure if I am.”