Virginia teen gets 11 years for assisting Islamic State

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Northern Virginia teen sentenced to 11 years for aiding Islamic State.

A Virginia teenager who used social media to support the militant group Islamic State was sentenced to just over 11 years in federal prison on Friday, the U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton handed down a 136-month sentence in a hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, the department said in a statement. “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,” U.S.

Just minutes before, the youth had read a statement to the judge saying he did not “ask for or expect sympathy” and stood ready to accept whatever punishment was imposed. Amin, who used the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, pleaded guilty in June to using Twitter and his blog to show how to use the virtual currency Bitcoin to send funds to the militants. The way they told it, the teen was a prolific, sophisticated Islamic State supporter whose efforts not only bolstered the terrorist group’s online propaganda machine but also sent them a real life fighter who will probably trade his life to advance their nefarious cause. But by his family’s and defense attorney’s accounts, Amin was little more than a troubled kid who lost himself while seeking acceptance and respect in a sinister, virtual world. The SITE monitoring service, which follows social media postings by jihadist militants, has said Amin had some 4,000 Twitter followers and was in communication with well-known Islamic State fighters and recruiters.

The former student at Prince William County’s Osbourn Park High School admitted that he was the secret voice behind the pro-Islamic State Twitter account @AmreekiWitness, Tweeting more than 7,000 times and broadcasting his controversial views to more than 4,000 followers. Federal prosecutors have charged several people across the United States in recent months with supporting the Islamic State as the extremist group has sought to build support through social media. He also helped an 18-year-old friend, Reza Niknejad, actually join up with the terrorist group in Syria, setting Niknejad up with the overseas contacts he had made, riding with him to the airport and even following along by picture message as Niknejad made his way over the border. Joe Flood, Amin’s defense attorney, painted a far more sympathetic portrait of his client, submitting to the court 20 letters from friends and family members, a psychological assessment and even a letter from the teen in an effort to sway the judge toward leniency.

Already on a quest to learn more about his faith — and upset over alleged atrocities against Muslims in the Middle East — Amin found respect, even reverence among people on the Internet with radical views.

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