Teen Sentenced to 11 Years for Online Aid to Islamic State

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on September 01, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A 17-year-old high school student has been sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for using social media accounts to assist supporters of the Islamic State. U.S. officials have declared the militant group, also referred to as ISIL or ISIS, a terrorist organization.

Ali Shukri Amin admitted to using his Twitter account to provide advice on how to travel to Syria to join ISIL and how to use Bitcoin to funnel money to the group.

Internet Support and Resources

Amin pleaded guilty in June to "Providing Material Support and Resources to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," for pro-ISIL tweets and publishing "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." Amin also admitted to helping a classmate travel to Syria to join the group.

At sentencing, Amin told the court he accepted full responsibility for his actions and contended, "I have not attempted to deny or explain away anything I have done." He described a "spiritual journey" that attempted to reconcile his Muslim faith with events he was reading about in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. When he couldn't get answers from adults in his life, he turned to the Internet, where he was encouraged to "advocate violent jihad."

Online Terror Organization

Under the federal statute, Amin was facing a maximum of 15 years in prison and lifetime supervision upon release. He is just the latest, although one of the youngest, to be charged with supporting or joining ISIL.

U.S. Attorney Dana Boente released a statement after District Judge Claude M. Hilton sentenced Amin:

"Today's sentencing demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to ISIL will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms with ISIL. The Department of Justice will continue to pursue those that travel to fight against the United States and our allies, as well as those individuals that recruit others on behalf of ISIL in the homeland."

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