The Dreaded ISIS Visits Bengaluru
It must be symptomatic of Bengaluru’s reputation of being the Silicon Valley of India that Mehdi Masroor Biswas, a Bengali youth based in the city, was tweeting on the virtues of the dreaded Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Not only tweeting, Mehdi also came on the Channel 4 after which his luck ran out when the Bengaluru City police—who too has gone tech-savvy of late—landed at his nondescript Sujatha apartments at Ayyappa Nagar in Jalahalli, a few metres away from the sensitive wing of the Indian Air Force base in North West Bengaluru and picked him up for questioning.
With the arrest of Biswas—a 23-year-old youth with a simple and unassuming look—Bengaluru hit the international headlines for a wrong reason after having gone global for right reasons, mainly for its prowess in software industry. Bengalureans woke up to a shocked Sunday when they read about the presence of a hardcore ISIS supporter in their own city. “I just can’t believe that one of the supporter of ISIS is living amidst us,” said Girija, a home-maker, who lived in the next apartment, that of Biswas.
The arrest of Biswas, which looked much easy, though with meticulousness, also raised questions whether he was a plant by any of the Central Intelligence Agencies—RAW or IB—in order to trace the passive and latent supporters of ISIS across the globe. For, there was a fan-following of about 17,786 people to Biswas’ twitter account @ShamiWitness, across the globe. But the police ruled out the possibility and asserted that Biswas was indeed a passionate supporter of ISIS ideology.
“He (Biswas) says he has not recruited anybody here in Bengaluru or any other part of Karnataka and South India but we are verifying his statement,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Hemanth Nimbalkar said and added, “He has admitted to having contacts with the English-speaking sympathizers of ISIS other countries.”
Biswas is an BE graduate in the faculty of Electrical Engineering from Guru Nanak institute of technology in West Bengal and had obtained a job in ITC Foods in Peenya. He got the job in campus interview and was recruited after getting the police verification done by the Kolkata police.
“There was no past criminal record as per the police verification report. He was nice guy, kept to himself, did not had much friends in office but he did justice to the job,” police sources quoting ITC authorities told Uday India.
Son of a retired employee of West Bengal electricity board, Biswas has two sisters who live in Sodepur in West Bengal along with his parents. His father, Mekail Biswas denied of his son having any contact with terrorist organization. “What is ISIS? I am not aware of this. My son called and told me that his twitter account has been hacked. My son cannot be a part of any unlawful activity,” Mekail told the police.
According to police, Biswas was translating Arabic tweets of ISIS to English and re-posting it in order to “convey the message and meaning” of the Wahhabi-brand of Islam, which is the mainstay of ISIS ideology. “Most of the messages which he had posted almost tantamount to waging war against Asiatic powers—read India. “Hence we have registered FIR against him for conspiring, abetting and inciting to wage war against Asiatic powers and also aiding terrorist activities,” police said.
By arresting Biswas has a major threat been thwarted and averted? The police replied in the affirmative as he could have been an effective facilitator for flight of youth from South India to Dubai and then on to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS on the pretext of gaining employment in Arab countries.
Bengalureans heaved a sigh of relief with the arrest of ISIS sympathizer but continued to remain in a state of shock as a neighbourhood-boy has been charged with having links with a dreaded and most ruthless terrorist organization which is playing havoc with thousands of lives of innocent men and women in West Asia. What’s next is the million-dollar question that is on the lips of millions of Bengalureans as well as that of peace-loving population of the world.
BENGALURU CRIME DCP GETS THREAT MAIL
“We will not leave our brothers in your hands. Revenge is coming. Wait for our reaction,” was the mail received by Abhishek Goyal, a few hours after the arrest of Biswas was announced by the Karnataka Police on Saturday. The message has been sent from twitter account @abouanfal16. Though the police are not perturbed, they, however, are baffled by the speed with which the reaction has come.
A BLEND OF TECHNOLOGY AND COMMON SENSE
The T-shirt which Biswas was wearing when he gave interview to Channel 4 of Britain was followed by the IB and NIA sleuths, as the twitter account could not take them to the logical end with the absence of IP address as there were no server logs. The calls he made was tracked and after trawling through millions of Facebook account, the police reached Gurunanak Institute of Technology, the college where he did his engineering. From then on there was no looking back, as the IB and NIA sleuths, along with the officers of City Crime Branch, knocked on Biswas’ doors in Sujatha apartments in Jalahalli.
BENGALUREANS WENT 23 YEARS BACK IN TIME
When the news of the arrest of one of their neighbour boys appeared in print and electronic media after the CCB officers and intelligence sleuths arrested Biswas from Sujatha apartments in Ayyappa Nagar at Jalahalli, the memory of the shocked Bengalureans went 23-years back in time when the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka police, in a joint operation, conducted an encounter at Konanakunte, where LTTE leaders, Sivarasan and Subha, the killers of Rajiv Gandhi, were gunned down. “We were never aware that the most wanted persons, killers of Rajiv Gandhi, were our neighbours,” Thimme Gowda, a farmer who was living next to the house, had commented. A similar remark went out when Biswas was arrested by the Police. “The more you change, the more you remain the same,” is a Vedic saying, which unfortunately has become true for wrong reasons.
BISWAS’S THOROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF GEOGRAPHY
The police and intelligence officers were dumb-struck when they found out that the knowledge of Biswas on the history, geography, social and economic conditions in Iraq and Syria was profound. So much so, he had thorough knowledge of the lanes and by-lanes of major cities of Iraq and Syria and also the latest movements of the IS forces as well as the security forces led by the US. According to the police, he had almost real-time information on the happenings in the two strife-torn countries of Syria and Iraq.
HISTORY REPEATED IN BENGALURU
Bengaluru has been in international news for wrong reasons for the third time. First, it was a city boy Kafeel—a jihadi—who rammed RDX laden jeep into Glasgow airport. He was from Banashankari II stage, a locality in South Bangalore and was an engineer from a local college. He later succumbed to his injuries at Glasgow. His brother Dr Sabeel Ahmed was arrested in Australia on the suspicion of being hand in glove with his brother but the charges were dropped for want of concrete evidence. Bhatkal brothers who were arrested for being jihadists are yet another black mark on the face of Karnataka.
By S A Hemantha Kumar from Bengaluru