Virginia honor student, 17, pleads guilty to assisting ISIL

WASHINGTON — A Virginia honor student pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to charges that he supported the Islamic State’s recruitment campaign in the U.S. The 17-year-old, one of the youngest Americans to face such terrorism-related charges, is the latest example of the growing influence of ISIL among youth in America.

Ali Shukri Amin acknowledged assisting in the radicalization of an 18-year-old friend, Reza Niknejad and aiding Niknejad’s travel overseas earlier this year to join ISIL’s ranks in Syria.

Amin also established a Twitter account, amassing thousands of followers, used to instruct prospective jihadis on how to mask financial contributions to ISIL by using the virtual currency Bitcoin, according to court documents.

Assistant Attorney General John Carlin, who oversees the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said the case underscores ISIL’s continuing social media effort to draw U.S. sympathizers to its cause, snagging ever-younger recruits.

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,” Carlin said. “This challenge requires parental and community awareness and action to confront and deter this threat wherever it surfaces.”

In court documents outlining Amin’s admitted activities, prosecutors said Amin used his Twitter account, webpage and pro-ISIL blog to “proselytize his radical Islamic ideology, justify and defend ISIL’s violent practices and to provide advice on topics such as jihadists travel to fight with ISIL.”

“On his blog,” prosecutors said, “the defendant authored a series of highly technical articles targeted at aspiring jihadists and ISIL supporters detailing the use of security measures in online communications to include the use of encryption and anonymity software.”

Perhaps the most consequential of Amin’s actions centered on the assistance

Originally appeared at: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/06/11/isil-youth-conspiracy/71062896/