India May Be Softening Stance on Shami Witness

India Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave a statement to Parliament about the arrest of Shami Witness yesterday.

"The interrogation of Mehdi Biswas has indicated that his activities were limited to posting and reposting of pro-ISIS (as the IS was previously known) material on his Twitter account and social media sites," the minister said.

...He used to visit prominent IS-related sites, mostly those in the Arabic language, and then used Web-based tools to translate the contents into English and repost the material on his Twitter account, Rajnath told Parliament.

He didn't call Shami a terrorist or jihadist, instead describing him as someone who "interacted with people on social networking sites 'on matters related to jihad'." He portrayed him as more "swagger than substance."

Other senior Indian officials told the Telegraph police would not have arrested Shami but for the media pressure. [More...]

"We see him as a harmless propagandist. We could have counselled and debriefed him had it not been for media pressure."

They also said his case might not be turned over to the National Investigation Agency anytime soon.

The Centre knows that if it starts arresting people for merely discussing terror on social networking sites, it will have to crack down on thousands. Besides, Mehdi's tweets seemed not to have influenced too many Indian youngsters.

Apparently, 60% of Shami's followers were non-Muslim. Most of his Muslim followers were from the West, particularly Great Britain.

He apparently has some security officials feeling sorry for him:

Some security officials even attempted to portray the young man from a Calcutta suburb in a soft light, saying he had wept inconsolably when his mother met him today. The Bangalore police, however, refused to confirm any meeting between Mehdi and any family member.

Police have uncovered no direct links between Shami Witness and ISIS or evidence he recruited anyone on its behalf.

He has been arrested on charges of waging war against friendly states and abetting and supporting terror though no evidence of terrorist activity or links has yet been found.

His arrest in Bangalore came weeks after the police of neighbouring Telangana treated young would-be IS recruits in Hyderabad with extreme sensitivity, choosing counselling and surveillance over arrest and letting them resume their normal student lives.

Free Shami Witness.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Gotta wonder if the "softening" survives (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:03:57 AM EST
    today's slaughter, by yet another schism of Talibani/Islamic militants, of over one hundred teachers and children in a Peshawar, Pakistan school.

    Peshawar (none / 0) (#2)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 08:16:15 AM EST
     is about 2000 miles from Syria. Assuming the attack is by  the Taliban that would demonstrate no link between Shami's correspondents affiliated with or supportive of ISIL and those responsible for the school massacre.

      Also, Pakistan is most definitely not an ally of India, so the statute Jeralyn posted as the one forming the basis for the charge would not apply even if there was evidence Shami also had contact with people connected in some way to the Peshawar incident.

      I guess your point might be that Indian authorities might choose not to consider such things in deciding what to do with Shami, but I tend to think they will.

      From what I've read Shami seems more like an immature and foolish kid who probably got bored playing video games and can't find a girlfriend than an actual threat. I'm sure he reveled in the attention he received from gullible people who took him for something more, but that's not a crime.

    J, I am always amazed (none / 0) (#3)
    by ZtoA on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 12:07:55 PM EST
    about your 6th sense on people.