Newspaper article International New York Times

Twitter Ally of ISIS Is Indian Executive ; Near-Constant Postings Linked Not to a Fighter but a Marketer in Bangalore

Newspaper article International New York Times

Twitter Ally of ISIS Is Indian Executive ; Near-Constant Postings Linked Not to a Fighter but a Marketer in Bangalore

Article excerpt

One of the most prolific cheerleaders for the Islamic State, @shamiwitness, is a marketing executive in Bangalore, India, Britain's Channel 4 News said.

As the extremists of the Islamic State rampaged across Syria and Iraq, the Twitter user @shamiwitness was among the group's most prolific and widely followed English-language supporters. In a near- constant barrage of posts, he cheered the group's advances, disparaged its enemies and called on Muslims from around the world to heed the call of jihad.

When the Twitter mask fell, it revealed an identity behind the account that few had expected. According to a report broadcast Thursday by Britain's Channel 4 News, the man behind @shamiwitness is not an armed fighter, but a clean-shaven Indian marketing executive named Mehdi who lives and works in the city of Bangalore.

The rise and fall of @shamiwitness, whose Twitter account has been deleted, illuminates the role of volunteer sympathizers in the global spread of the Islamic State's message.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, dedicates significant resources to its social media campaign, regularly releasing photo reports, audio messages and professional-quality videos glorifying the group's activities. But equally important, analysts say, is the informal network of supporters who may have no official link to the group but magnify its reach.

Channel 4 said it had found the man behind the @shamiwitness account by first finding the name of a former Twitter account he had run, and then using that name to search other social media sites until it found a Facebook page belonging to a man named Mehdi.

While photos from that page broadcast by the channel were blurred, they clearly showed a clean-cut man posing in locations far from the Middle Eastern battlefields that defined his online life.

The channel did not release his full name, saying Mehdi had said that such a disclosure would endanger his life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.