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Lone rangers, a source of worry

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The case of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, arrested for allegedly being the handler of pro-IS twitter account @ShamiWitness, has brought back to the fore a major issue worrying security agencies — self-radicalised lone rangers.

“Biswas was self-radicalised through the Internet and had no real world links to any terror outfit, said police commissioner M.N. Reddi.

Such cases, where there are no handlers “brain washing” an individual to support a group, pose an enormous challenge to security agencies. A senior National Investigation Agency (NIA) official said the anonymity offered by the Internet is the biggest reason why it is difficult to monitor such cases.

The fears are all the more real in India’s IT capital, which has a strong and growing population of people from around the world who are highly tech-savvy.

In August 2012, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) arrested 11 men from Bengaluru, Hubli and Hyderabad. Three of them were subsequently let off by the NIA. The case was touted as the first case of suspected self-radicalisation.

Additional Commissioner of Police B. Dayananda who investigated that case said even if someone were to be “brain washed” online, he would still need a real world connect to do something on the ground. “Our case in 2012 was that they had made that real world contact. But Mehdi seems to have chosen to remain virtual as an agent of radicalisation online,” he said.

Another senior NIA official said most recruiters and agents operated online. A youth with radical inclination could easily be lured into the matrix and also come into contact with the real world terror altars. He cited a recent case where a suspected IS recruiter based out of the Gulf radicalised four engineering students in Hyderabad online.

A senior NIA official said while the anonymity offered by the Internet was a problem, what compounded it was the severe shortage of skilled manpower in police forces across the country.

In fact, even in the Biswas case there was confusion over which agency was monitoring the case initially, said sources.



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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 3:13:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lone-rangers-a-source-of-worry/article6691372.ece

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