NIA court convicts IS propagandist Mehdi Masroor Biswas; sentencing likely today

January 19, 2024 09:14 pm | Updated 09:15 pm IST - Bengaluru

The Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court in the city convicted Islamic State (IS) propagandist Mehdi Masroor Biswas of terrorism and waging war against a friendly Asiatic ally, on January 16. The court is likely to announce the quantum of his sentence on Saturday. 

Biswas, a techie hailing from West Bengal and working in Bengaluru, was unmasked as the person behind the Twitter handle @ShamiWitness, which was giving out accurate information about the advances of IS in 2013-14, following a documentary on U.K. television Channel 4 featured him. Sleuths from the Central Crime Branch (CCB), Bengaluru city police, had identified him as Biswas, tracked him down to Jalahalli and arrested him on December 13, 2014.

Biswas had claimed he had no direct links to the IS but had been tweeting about the ground updates, accumulating information from radical Islamic handles and websites on the Internet. However, he was accused of predicting the beheading of a journalist of the United States of America and a U.K. aid worker. He had also called for support for the IS in Kashmir. He had also come into contact with IS fighters through social media, the 36,986-page chargesheet alleged.

S.T. Bikkannavar, public prosecutor in the case, said Justice C.M. Gangadhar of the Special NIA Court in the city convicted Biswas on January 16 and posted the case for sentencing on Saturday. “He has been convicted under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, waging war against a friendly Asiatic ally, and promoting enmity among groups. Charges were also framed against him under Section 66F of the Information Technology Act, 2000, for cyber terrorism. He has been acquitted under this section,” Mr. Bikkannavar said.

This was the first case in the State in which Section 66F of the IT Act, 2000, was invoked and the State has failed to get a conviction in the same. Recently, the city police again invoked this section in two cases where hoax bomb threat bulk emails were sent to schools in and around the city in 2022 and 2023.

Biswas, now 34, has already served over eight years in prison as an undertrial.

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