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Virginia Teen Pleads Guilty To Supporting ISIS Over Social Media

A Virginia teenager pleaded guilty on Thursday of providing material support to the so-called Islamic State.

According to a statement of facts filed in federal court, Ali Shukri Amin took to Twitter to advocate on behalf of ISIS. Amin admitted that he showed the terrorist group how to use Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to mask its funding and he also admitted to helping another Virginia teen, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, travel to Syria.

"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," U.S. Attorney Boente 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, and prosecute them to the full extent of the law."

According to the statement of facts, Amin began an effort to convert Niknejad into a radical Islamist in September 2014.

By December, Amin had put Niknejad in contact with an ISIS supporter abroad. And on January 14, 2015, Amin admitted that he drove Niknejad to the airport where Niknejad would board a plane headed to Athens by way of Istanbul.

Authorities say Niknejad stayed in Turkey and they believe he made it across the border into Syria. His family has not seen him since.

Amin faces up to 15 years in prison.

Below we've embedded the statement of facts:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.