Manassas Man Pleads Guilty to Providing Material Support to ISIL
17-year-old Facilitated Travel to Syria for 18-year-old Prince William County Resident
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Ali Shukri Amin, 17, of Manassas, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to charges of conspiring to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. He will be sentenced on Aug. 28, 2015.
“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 Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “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, and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”
“Ali Shukri Amin is a 17-year-old American who pleaded guilty to providing material support to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, aka ISIL, and he used social media to do so” said John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “Around the nation, we are seeing ISIL use social media to reach out from the other side of the world. 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. This challenge requires parental and community awareness and action to confront and deter this threat wherever it surfaces.”
“Ali Amin’s guilty plea is the latest in a series of cases that highlights the impact and danger of online extremist propaganda,” said Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “From the comfort of his home in Northern Virginia, Amin developed a prolific online presence which directly impacted vulnerable individuals to financially support ISIL and propelled at least one of them to travel overseas to join ISIL in Syria. The FBI, through our Joint Terrorism Task Force, is dedicated to protection the United States against the continuing evolution of ISIL and their supporters.”
“As a long standing member of the JTTF we support the investigation and prosecution of persons who pose a threat to our county and our Nation,” said Stephan Hudson, Prince William County Chief of Police. “In order to ensure our safety, it is incumbent upon all of us to pay attention and report suspicious activity to law enforcement. This case is particularly chilling in that our vulnerable young people have been targeted for participation in terrorism. Social media has many helpful applications however it can be corrupted and used for unlawful purposes. As parents, we need to do our best to monitor our children's on line activity.”
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Amin admitted to using Twitter to provide advice and encouragement to ISIL and its supporters. Amin, who used the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, provided instruction on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask the provision of funds to ISIL, as well as facilitation to ISIL supporters seeking to travel to Syria to fight with ISIL. Additionally, Amin admitted that he facilitated travel for Reza Niknejad, an 18-year-old Prince William County resident who traveled to Syria to join ISIL in January 2015. Niknejad was charged yesterday in the Eastern District of Virginia with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIL, and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad.
Amin was charged by criminal information during the court hearing today, and faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; and Stephan Hudson, Prince William County Chief of Police, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael P. Ben’Ary and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline H. Friedman are prosecuting the case. Substantial assistance was provided by Trial Attorney Stephen Sewell of the National Security Division's Counterterrorism Section.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-164.