Indian Police Reactivate Shami Witness' Twitter Account

Indian police have put Shami Witness' Twitter Account back online so they can investigate his tweets and all the people who followed him. All of his tweets are here. (You can read them without following him.)

You can also read what his supporters are saying about his arrest at the hashtag #FreeShamiWitness. [More...]

Here's an example:

The ICSR (International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at the Department of War Studies,
King's College London) did a study of foreign fighters and news disseminators. The published report is called Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks. A summary is here. From the full report:

[Twitter] has given rise to so-called disseminator accounts which spread information from the battlefield in real-time, publishing links to new videos and official statements, spreading photographs of battles, equipment, meetings, and `martyrs.'

These disseminators are not foreign fighters nor do they have any official links to jihadist organisations. Instead, they broadly support the Islamist project in Syria and, in that respect, provide both moral and political support to the cause by establishing themselves as reliable sources of information.

The most important disseminator, who is followed by nearly two thirds of the Twitter accounts in our dataset, is Shami Witness. (my emphasis)

The report says the effect of disseminators is to lessen control of ISIS and other groups over their message.

The prominence of Shami Witness highlights the inability of jihadist groups to exert direct influence and control over their message. When jihadist conversations were previously restricted to internet forums, discussions could be policed and regulated. Dissent was monitored and, where necessary, curtailed by suspending troublesome forum members. This is no longer possible on Twitter where both fighters and their supporters are able to engage in wholly unregulated conversations about whatever they please.

Put another way:

Based on our database, the report finds that a large number of foreign fighters receive their information about the conflict not from the official channels provided by their fighting groups, but through so-called disseminators - unaffiliated but broadly sympathetic individuals who sometimes appear to offer moral and intellectual support to jihadist opposition groups. The ability of jihadist groups to exert control over information has been significantly eroded, while private individuals, who are (mostly) based in the West and who may have never set foot inside Syria, possess significant influence over how the conflict is perceived by those who are actively involved in it.

Police are determining whether Shami abetted ISIS in violation of Section 125 of the Indian Penal Code, "Waging war against any Asiatic Power in alliance with the Government of India." It reads:

Whoever wages war against the Government of any Asiatic Power in alliance or at peace with the *[Government of India] or attempts to wage such war, or abets the waging of such war, shall be punished with **[imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.

Section 108 defines an abettor.

It seems to me the penalty in his case would be 7 years, not life, since ISIS never committed a crime based on his abetment. The language is very stilted but see Section 115.

Whoever abets the commission of an offence punishable with death or [imprisonment for life], shall, if that offence be not committed in consequence of the abetment, and no express provision is made by this Code for the punishment of such abetment, be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine;

There's also sections 116 and 109.)

Explanation: An act or offence is said to be committed in consequence of abetment, when it is committed in consequence of the instigation or in pursuance of the conspiracy, or with the aid, which constitutes the abetment.

Shami Witness is also being investigated for Sections 18 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

Police say his "terrorism" was more virtual than real. They still haven't found any links between him and ISIS or terror groups in India.

The agencies say that they have not found any direct link between him and the ISIS. He was well versed with the issues in both Syria and Iraq and moreover this account has been in the open since almost two years. We do not find that he was involved in any sort of recruitment process. He was an avid tweeter and like several others posted material about the ISIS.

Police say he worked all day and then would go home to his one bedroom apartment and tweet ISIS news of the day. His employer is cooperating with the investigation, and said in a statement that Shami "did not have access to external social media platforms from the office network."

< "Shami Witness" Arrested in India | GW Bush: Forget the Torture Report, CIA are Patriots >
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  • Display: Sort:
    Glad I never followed him :) (none / 0) (#3)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 14, 2014 at 01:17:14 PM EST
    His tweets were numerous in the Kobane hashtags.

    MT, I follow about (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 14, 2014 at 02:30:14 PM EST
    60 of them, so you and other readers won't have to.

    We love you for it (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Dec 14, 2014 at 02:31:27 PM EST
    and many other things

    And I thank you for that (none / 0) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Dec 14, 2014 at 02:39:26 PM EST
    Breaking News (none / 0) (#7)
    by Politalkix on Sun Dec 14, 2014 at 07:09:27 PM EST

    J, Will it be possible to start a new open thread? This is not about India but Islamists are holding 20 hostages inside a cafe, in one of the busiest business districts of Sydney, Australia. There is some confusion whether there is an ISIS connection or not...