Bengaluru: The only clue that the intelligence officers had of Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the handler of @ShamiWitness Twitter account, was the T-shirt he was seen wearing in the photograph that was flashed on TV during the interview with Channel 4.
A private TV channel in India now says Intelligence sleuths flashed an urgent message to the US for the internet logs of the Twitter handle ‘@ShamiWitness’ – the purported handle of the IS man. But as with all such requests, there was no hope of getting details on time.
Without server logs, it was impossible to know the IP address, so the investigation team got down to tracking the T-shirt Masroor was wearing during the interview. A voice analysis pointed to a man in early or mid-20s with a Bengali accent.
The investigators trawled through Facebook pages using special software, checking for pictures of people sporting similar T-shirts. The search yielded a few hundred profiles.
The search then moved on to another parallel – phone numbers of people called Mehdi. It threw up people working in very senior positions, the TV channel. The voice analysis that pointed to a young man with a Bengali accent helped narrow the list.
Phone records of those on the final list of suspects showed normal activity except for the one who went by the name Mehdi Masroor Biswas. It seemed to match all criteria – a Bengali boy in mid-20s, an engineer who was located in Bengaluru.
The next step was Guru Nanak Institute of Technology – listed by Biswas in one of his public profiles – in West Bengal’s Sodepur. The college had details of his employment and photo.
A little after 11 pm, when a section of the intelligence team walked into Masroor’s one-room apartment, he was seated at his computer.