There are more Indians empathising with the Islamic State than previously thought, as can be understood by Channel 4's sensational revelation.
Britain's Channel 4 has uncovered the identity of the man behind the most influential Twitter handle "Shami Witness", who is followed by many foreign Jihadis. Shami Witness, who is identified only as Mehdi, is allegedly an executive in Bangalore working for an Indian conglomerate. Shami Witness feeds many tweets of propaganda about the Islamic militant group day in and day out, acting as a leading channel of information exchange between jihadis, ISIS supporters and fresh recruits.
Some of his tweets read, "May Allah guide, protect, strengthen and expand that Islamic State. May Allah destroy those who allied with taghout agents to fight Dawlah (6)", posted on 24 November and "... Alhamdulillah. You bros talked the talk, walked the walk. May Allah accept your life and death" on 28 October 2013. He had even tweeted the video of the execution of US aid worker Peter Kassig.
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) December 11, 2014
According to a BBC report from June 2014, one of the Islamic State's most effective propaganda plans was via the social media. Since 9 June, a string of Twitter accounts that claim to represent ISIS in Iraq and Syria have been providing live updates on the Islamic State's operations and images illustrating their advances.
The trend of selfies and posting collages were also popular among the Jihadis. When British fighter Ibrahim al-Mazwagi was killed in a battle in February at the age of 21, a collage was made to honor him as a martyr, along with his friend and fellow casualty, Abu Qudama, as noted by Vice.
BBC had claimed that most of the pro-ISIS accounts back then had originated from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf countries.
In "Profiling the Islamic State", a study published by Brookings Institute on 1 December, it was reiterated that social media still remains a strong ground and a key organisational strength for ISIS, which the Islamic State uses to "spread and legitimise IS's ideology, activities, and objectives, and to recruit and acquire international support."
Jihadist militants with the ISIS have proven time and again that they are experts in managing online distribution in order to successfully evade content controls, piggybacking popular online conversations and galvanising thousands of global supporters into spreading their message.
Their efforts were not in vain, as noted by The Guardian, which reported in November that outside Syria, support for ISIS has risen significantly. In a study that analysed pro-ISIS tweets, "Forty-seven per cent of the tweets and posts from Qatar, 35% from Pakistan, 31% from Belgium, almost 24% of posts from UK and 21% from the US, while only 20% came from Jordan, Saudi Arabia (19.7%) and Iraq (19.8%)."