- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Virginia teenager pleaded guilty Thursday to encouraging Islamic State supporters on Twitter and instructing them how to secretly fund the terrorist group, the Justice Department said.

Ali Shukri Amin, 17, admitted to U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia he used Twitter and other social media networks to advise those seeking to travel to Syria to fight with the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS.

The teen, who was charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State, faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Amin’s Twitter account — @Amreekiwitness — at one point had more than 4,000 followers, according to court documents. The teen used the account to explain how the Islamic State could better use the Internet tools available to it and push for the khilafah, or the political system in Islam, to have an official website “ASAP.”

“Through various tweets, the defendant provided information on how to prevent the website from being taken down, by adding security and defenses, and he solicited others via Twitter to assist on development of the website,” court documents state.

Amin also created Al-Khilafah Aridat, a pro-Islamic State blog he used to post a series of highly technical articles targeted at aspiring jihadis and Islamic State supporters. The blog provided detailed descriptions of how to use security measures in online communications, encryption and anonymity software, tools and techniques and the use of virtual currency such as bitcoins to anonymously fund the Islamic State, court documents state.

Amin also admitted to helping another Virginia teen, Reza Niknejad, travel to Syria to fight alongside Islamic State militants in January.

Court documents show that Amin converted Mr. Niknejad, 18, to a radical form of Islam late last year, then helped connect him with an overseas co-conspirator, driving Mr. Niknejad to Washington Dulles International Airport so that he could meet up with Islamic State supporters in Turkey. Those supporters planned to travel to Syria, according to court documents.

Mr. Niknejad, who the Justice Department says is still overseas, was charged Wednesday with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.

“Around the nation, we are seeing ISIL use social media to reach out from the other side of the world,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John 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.

“This case serves as a wake-up call that ISIL’s propaganda and recruitment materials are in your communities and being viewed by your youth,” Mr. Carlin said. “This challenge requires parental and community awareness and action to confront and deter this threat wherever it surfaces.”

• Maggie Ybarra can be reached at mybarra@washingtontimes.com.

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