ALEXANDRIA, Virginia — Ali Shukri Amin, from Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal court to providing material support to ISIS and faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 28.
The 17-year-old was accused of helping, Reza Niknejad, 18, who officials believe went on to join ISIS, travel to Syria, a law enforcement source said in March. The teen was also accused of passing messages between ISIS contacts.
Amin appearing before the judge in a blue jail jumpsuit only responded “guilty sir” to the judge when asked to give his plea and “no sir” when asked if he is innocent in any way to the charges he is facing.
Amin admitted in a statement of fact as part of the plea agreement to using the twitter handle @Amreekiwitness to “provide advice and encouragement to ISIL and its supporters,” according to a Department of Justice press release.
Additionally, Amin taught followers how to use bitcoin to covertly send funds to the terror group.
Social media has been widely utilized by the terror organization for recruiting and propaganda purposes, but the U.S. has also used the various mediums, like Twitter, to hone in on foreign targets.
“Around the nation, we are seeing ISIL use social media to reach out from the other side of the world,” Assistant Attorney General Carlin said. “Their messages are reaching America in an attempt to radicalize, recruit and incite our youth and others to support ISIL’s violent causes.”
Niknejad was also charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad in the Eastern District Court of Virginia on Wednesday.
Investigators spent more than a month watching the teen before he was arrested, the Washington Post reported at the time citing officials and neighbors.
“Today’s guilty plea 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,” said U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.