Virginia teen gets 11 years sentence for supporting ISIS on Twitter and coaching them about bitcoins
Ali Shukri Amin, a 17-year-old Virginia teenager was sentenced to 11 years in prison Friday for running pro Islamic State (ISIL) Twitter account and encouraging a friend to travel to Syria and join the terrorist group. He was charged for assisting ISIL via blog and Twitter posts about encryption and Bitcoin. He stood motionless as the sentence was handed down to him by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton. Members of Amin’s family had packed out the courtroom to hear him sentenced and they too were silent after the jail term was read.
According to the prosecutors, Amin’s sentencing clearly shows the government’s aggressive stance towards confronting ISIS.
Amin was calm as he read out a statement to the judge which said that he ‘did not expect sympathy’ and was ‘ready to accept any sentence given to him’.
He said: ‘I made my decisions, and I am prepared to bear their fullest consequences.’
Following Friday’s sentencing before US District Judge Claude Hilton in Virginia, assistant Attorney General John Carlin said in a statement said “Ali Shukri Amin is a young American who used social media to provide material support to ISIL. More and more, their propaganda is seeping into our communities and reaching those who are most vulnerable.”
United States’ Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin says that:
“ISIL CONTINUES TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO SEND THEIR VIOLENT AND HATEFUL MESSAGE AROUND THE WORLD IN AN ATTEMPT TO RADICALIZE, RECRUIT AND INCITE YOUTH AND OTHERS TO SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE. MORE AND MORE, THEIR PROPAGANDA IS SEEPING INTO OUR COMMUNITIES AND REACHING THOSE WHO ARE MOST VULNERABLE.”
Carlin further added (using a different acronym for ISIS):
“THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WILL CONTINUE TO USE ALL TOOLS TO DISRUPT THE THREATS THAT ISIL POSES, AND OUR EFFORTS WILL BE FURTHERED BY PARENTS AND OTHER MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY WILLING TO TAKE ACTION TO CONFRONT AND DETER THIS THREAT WHEREVER IT MAY SURFACE.”
One of the youngest people in the US to face terror charges, Amin pleaded guilty in June (PDF) for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and faced a maximum 15 years in prison. Amin apparently helped another Virginia teen travel to Syria to join the ISIS. He ran a Twitter account called @AmreekiWitness, which had about 4,000 followers and he had tweeted more than 7,000 times. Last year, the authorities said, he tweeted on the now-defunct Twitter handle about how jihadists could use Bitcoin “to fund their efforts.”
According to Amin’s court admission (PDF) “The article explained what Bitcoins were, how the Bitcoin system worked, and suggested using Dark Wallet, a new Bitcoin wallet, which keeps the user of Bitcoins anonymous. The article included statements on how to set up an anonymous donations system to send money, using Bitcoin, to the mujahedeen.”
Amin, a honor roll student of the Prince William County Osbourn Park High School said he “I became lost and caught up in something that takes the greatest and most profound teachings of Islam and turns them into justifications for violence and death.”
On his blog, the boy said he “authored a series of highly technical articles targeted at aspiring jihadists and ISIL supporters detailing the use of security measures in online communications to include the use of encryption and anonymity software, tools and techniques, as well as the use of the virtual currency Bitcoin as a means to anonymously fund ISIL.”
The defendant was also accused of radicalizing an 18-year-old Virginia youth, Reza Niknejad, who travelled to Syria in January to join the terrorist group by setting Niknejad up with his overseas contacts, the authorities said.
According to The Washington Post, he then took his friend to the airport and sent picture messages as his friend arrived and made his way over the border. Alleging that Amin radicalized Niknejad to fight abroad, prosecutors said he affected ‘worldwide security’. He is believed to still be overseas.
They said: ‘It likely, unfortunately, that he will accomplish the goal that this defendant set out for him; martyrdom in the name of ISIL.’
Niknejad was charged with making secret plans to kill or injure people abroad and for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and the Islamic State.
In a similar incident, a British national top hacker for ISIS Junaid Hussain aka Trick was killed in a drone strike in Syria on 27th August 2015. Junkie was known as the mastermind behind every high-profile cyber attack carried out by CyberCaliphate hacking group.
Junaid was also named as the brain behind the leaked hit list of 1500 U.S. Military and government officials persuading ISIS supporters in the U.S. to find them and kill them.