Virginia Teen Accused Of Showing ISIS Members How To Use Bitcoin

June 12, 2015

The trend of Bitcoin and ISIS being related in the same story continues as Ali Shukri Amin, a high school student from Virginia, pleaded guilty Thursday for, among other things, teaching ISIS supporters how to use the popular crypto-currency Bitcoin.

Ali Shukri Amin of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to providing material support to ISIS. He faces up to 15 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced August 28.

Accused of helping 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, who US officials believe to have joined ISIS, the 17-year-old Amin was accused of relaying messages among ISIS contacts.

He responded “guilty sir” when asked to plea, and “no sir” when asked if he was in anyway innocent. Amin admitted to using the twitter handle @Amreekiwitness in order to “provide advice and encouragement to ISIL and its supporters,” the Department of Justice stated in a press release. As CNN writes, Amin also “taught followers how to use bitcoin to covertly send funds to the terror group.”

“Around the nation, we are seeing ISIL use social media to reach out from the other side of the world,” Assistant Attorney General Carlin said. “Their messages are reaching America in an attempt to radicalize, recruit and incite our youth and others to support ISIL’s violent causes.”

Niknejad also is charged with conspiring to support terrorists, with investigators having spent over a month spying on the teen before arresting him.

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 U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente.

Bitcoin has been discussed liberally around the topic of the Islamic State in recent weeks and months, as Cryptocoins News reported earlier this week, Washington Post has written of Bitcoin:

The service [read: Bitcoin] has been used by drug dealers and pedophiles, so why not extremist groups? In January, Ido Wulkan, an analyst from S2T, a Singapore-based cyber-intelligence company, warned that a U.S.-based cell appeared to be raising money for the Islamic State using the dark Web.

According to mainstream press, an individual called “Abu Ahmed al Raqqa” appealed to supporters of the Islamic State to send funds to the militant group in bitcoins to expand its “caliphate” in Internet messages posted last May. The messages were posted on the darknet.

Defense lawyer Joseph Flood said Amin was motivated by sincere beliefs. “It’s part of the modern era of the Internet,” Flood said. “Sometimes people feel frustrated in their inability to effect change against a government committing atrocities… He was blogging on the Internet. It’s as simple as that.”

“He takes adult responsibility for what he did, but we can’t lose sight of the fact he is a child,” Flood said.