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Manassas teen sentenced to 11 years in prison for aiding terror group

© Leesburg Today - 08/28/2015

A Manassas area teen was sentenced Friday to serve 11 years in federal prison for supporting ISIL.

Ali Shukri Amin, 17, a former Osbourn Park student, pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, federal prosecutors said in a news release.

According to court documents, Amin, using the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, provided instructions on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to provide funds to ISIL. He also helped another Manassas area teen, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, travel to Syria to join ISIL in January. Niknejad, who is believed to be in Syria, is charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIL, and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.

""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,"" Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of said in a statement.  ""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.""

In a letter to the court, Amin told the judge that he ""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.""

""I denounce ISIS, its violence and the way it twists the core tenants of Islam into weapons killing and oppression,"" he wrote.

Amin wrote that he became involved with supporting the terrorist group at a time in his life when he was seeking ""to deepen my religious faith and to make sense of the things that I was reading abou tin Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.""

Amin said he first turned to the adults and Imams in his life, but when he did not find answers there, be began to develop relationships with people on the Internet who he said ""challenged me to demonstrate my convictions and encouraged me to become a more active presence on the internet and to advocate violent jihad.""

In a statement, Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office said the case is a tragic one.

""Today marks a personal tragedy for the Amin family and the community as we have lost yet another young person to the allure of extremist ideology focused on hatred,"" McCabe said.  ""Amin's case serves as a reminder of how persistent and pervasive online radicalization has become. The FBI, through our Joint Terrorism Task Forces, remains dedicated to protecting the United States against the ongoing violent threat posed by ISIL and their supporters.""

Stephan Hudson, chief of the Prince William County police department, said staff members and the school resource officer at Osbourn Park made observations about Amin's suspicious behavior and turned the information over to authorities.

""We greatly appreciate that these observations were observed and reported to the proper authorities proved to be instrumental in the overall investigation in stopping a dangerous network such as ISIL from further infiltrating our community,"" Hudson said in a statement.

In addition to the prison time, U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton sentenced Amin to a lifetime of supervised release.

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