WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Virginia teenager who used social media to support the militant group Islamic State was sentenced to just over 11 years in federal prison on Friday, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Ali Amin, 17, of Manassas, was the first minor prosecuted by the United States in such a case. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton handed down a 136-month sentence in a hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, the department said in a statement.
“Today’s sentencing 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 Dana Boente said, using an acronym for the militant group.
Amin, who used the Twitter handle @Amreekiwitness, pleaded guilty in June to using Twitter and his blog to show how to use the virtual currency Bitcoin to send funds to the militants.
Prosecutors said Amin also helped Reza Niknejad, 19, of Prince William County, Virginia, to travel to Syria in January to join the Islamic State. Niknejad faces federal terrorism and conspiracy charges in Virginia.
Islamic State has taken control of large areas of Iraq and Syria in a campaign marked by mass killings and beheadings.
The SITE monitoring service, which follows social media postings by jihadist militants, has said Amin had some 4,000 Twitter followers and was in communication with well-known Islamic State fighters and recruiters.
Federal prosecutors have charged several people across the United States in recent months with supporting the Islamic State as the extremist group has sought to build support through social media.
An Arizona man was indicted on Thursday for supporting the Islamic State by helping a New York college student travel to Syria for military-style training.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Emily Stephenson, Mohammad Zargham and Lisa Lambert