Osbourn Park High School student Ali Shukri Amin, 17, pleaded guilty today on federal charges accusing him of using social media “to provide material support and resources” to the terrorist group known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“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 in a news release. “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.”
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, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Amin, who used the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, provided instruction on how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask the provision of funds to the Islamic terrorist group, as well as facilitation to 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,” the release said.
Amin faces 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 28.
Federal agents raided Amin’s townhouse in Woodbridge Feb. 27. A computer and other electronic equipment were taken from the home, where he lived with his family.
According to the teen’s LinkedIn page, he is co-founder and head of BitCoin El Arab, “the first bitcoin exchange directed primarily at the Arab market.”
The teen’s page also said he co-founded “a computer organization” in 2014 that builds high-powered personal computers designed for gaming, video editing and engineering software.
Academic achievements noted include that he’s a student in OP’s biotechnology specialty program, competed in robotics and took multiple Advanced Placement courses.
In a statement, Prince William County schools spokesman Phil Kavits said while the case involves a former Osbourn Park student, "it does not represent this school or this community."
"It's important for our community to know that Osbourn Park High School is a safe, diverse, and respectful place where students learn, mature and excel," Kavits said.
Kavits said the school principal and other school division administrators "were aware that authorities were investigating a student's activities, but were never advised of any threat or danger to our students, staff, or schools."
"The individual at the center of the investigation was no longer attending classes," Kavits said. "We had enough confidence in school safety that there was no need for public communication that could interfere with the law enforcement efforts. We have and will continue to cooperate with authorities to ensure safety at all times."
Kavits added that school officials would "try to make some good come out of this situation by using the case to learn about and help students understand the risks of getting involved with the extreme speech and causes they see on social media."