@shamiwitness is one of the most popular and influential handles of the dreaded ISIS and this account was being run out of Bengaluru. Although the handle has been taken down following the revelation, investigations show that the person who prefers to call him as Mehdi is working as an executive in a food company in Bengaluru.
This revelation has brought once again to light that the ISIS has such a global reach and relies so heavily on India to spread its propaganda. It also goes on to prove that a lot of Indians who signed up for the ISIS were carrying out various jobs for the ISIS and one of the primary tasks assigned was to run the social media campaign of the ISIS.
Who is Mehdi
Mehdi is a pseudo name used by the handler of this account. He has been active on twitter and also his blog Shami Witness since May 2013.
On his blog and twitter handle he says, "blog is dedicated to news and analysis related to the free people of this planet,specially the ones throwing away tyranny in Bilad ash Sham. Among his interests he lists lists the following, "Musings on Bilad ash Sham, Sunni Revolutions, Jihad, Libya, Economic Collapse, Post-industrial society, Technology, History and what not."
Although his exact location details are being kept a secret for investigation purposes, what ever little that has been gathered shows that he is an executive at a food company in Bengaluru.
Signed up for ISIS, stayed back
He had signed up for the ISIS after being drawn to their ideology in the early part of 2013. However being the sole bread winner of the family, he decided not to go. However he wanted to contribute to the cause of the ISIS and apparently told his handler that he would run the social media campaign for the ISIS.
Since May 2013 his campaign has been extremely successful. His twitter handle got an average of 2.5 million hits a month. His blog on the other hand has been viewed 18177 time as we write this copy.
Prior to his twitter handle being withdrawn he posted, "may allah protect, strengthen and expand the Islamic state. May Allah destroy those who allied with taghout agents to fight dawlah."
On his blog he says follow @ElSaltador but when one clicks on it, the page leads back to his @shamiwitness account, which is currently shut down.
Michael Kugelman, senior programme associate for South ans South East Asia, Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, a Washington based think tank tells Oneindia that it appears this guy enjoyed a comfortable life as a white-collar worker in Bengaluru, and yet he secretly galvanized Islamic State fighters and recruits on Twitter.
We don't know for sure if he's an Indian national or not, though much of the speculation I've heard suggests that he is.
This revelation is yet another illustration of what has long been clear: Support for militant ideologies transcend class and socioeconomic status. Many poor people gravitate to such ideologies, but so do many within the middle and upper-class. There are impoverished Taliban foot soldiers, but there are also wealthy al-Qaeda leaders.
In some ways it's not surprising that this Islamic State Twitter account was run out of a city like Bangalore. Islamic State is a master exploiter of social media, and it depends on English-speaking, tech-savvy individuals to do this. A city like Bangalore has a large pool of such talent."
This account is considered to be one of the primary accounts of the ISIS. The beheading videos of the hostages at the hands of the ISIS were all put up on this account for the world to see. He was constantly tweeting about the activities of the ISIS and was always the first to praise any victory by the ISIS.
His conversations with some of the foreign fighters of the ISIS were quite revealing. He tweeted furiously in their support and was the first to always tell the world about their achievements.
However the account went extremely viral after he had posted the videos of hostages being beheaded.
The Indian investigators say that they are looking into this matter. There is some indication that he is based in Bengaluru, but we are finding out more on his location and also his nationality. It appears that he is of Indian origin.