The Story Behind ‘AmreekiWitness,’ The 17-Year-Old Tech-Savvy Virginian Who Ran An ISIS Twitter Account
Recently, news that an Islamic State Twitter personality was actually a local 17-year-old boy shocked a Virginia community. Now, as officials reveal court documents, the public is coming to a better understanding of all that occurred in the lead up to the FBI’s raid on this boy’s operation.
The FBI confiscated a package in early January that was bound for a the 17 year-old, straight from the Islamic State. But the contents weren’t meant for him — rather, he intended to pass it on to an 18 year-old companion who would later join the terror network in Syria.
A smartphone with international capability, a USB thumb drive and handwritten letter in English and Arabic were inside the package, delivered to Ali Shukri Amin, according to his plea in federal court Thursday.
Despite the FBI confiscating the parcel, alerted to Amin’s support for the Islamic State last November, contact Reza Niknejad boarded an international flight early this year, leaving only a letter and USB thumb drive for his family to indicate he’d never return.
An unidentified accomplice drove Amin and Niknejad to Dulles International Airport on January 14. Niknejad’s flight was bound for Greece but included a layover in Istanbul, Turkey. Amin advised Niknejad on how to meet up with Islamic State supporters once in Turkey and cross into the terror group’s territory in Syria, according to the plea.
Niknejad was last seen by family on the 14th, when he said he was going camping with an unknown friend. After his departure, Amin and the other accomplice gave Niknejad’s family a letter and thumb drive, according to plea documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. Niknejad’s family were unable to be reached for comment.
An Islamic State supporter sent Amin a message via an encrypted messenger called Surespot on Jan. 16, confirming Niknejad had successfully crossed into Syria with other Islamic State supporters.
Niknejad called his mother shortly after joining the terror group and said “he would ‘fight against these people who oppress the Muslims’ and that he would see her in the afterlife,” according to FBI allegations.
Amin, formerly an honor student at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, was arrested in February. He would’ve graduated this week, according to a statement by Defense Attorney Joseph Flood. Instead, he pleaded guilty as an adult to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced in August (RELATED: Virginia Teen Admits To Running Pro-ISIS Twitter Account)
The Manassas teen admitted to operating a pro-Islamic State Twitter account, using the handle @AmreekiWitness, Amreeki meaning “American” in Arabic. Amin opened the account last June, tweeted over 7,000 times and once had 4,000 followers.
He wrote about tactics to funnel money to the Islamic State, suggesting Bitcoin as an option. In mid-August, Amin tweeted the Islamic State needed an official website “ASAP” and that it shouldn’t release information “into the wild,” according to his plea.
Amin also operated a pro-jihad blog and ask.fm page, using them to proselytize radical Islam. On his blog, Amin suggested ways for Islamic State supporters to communicate securely online, using encryption and anonymity software.
Last September, Amin began trying to convert Niknejad to radical Islam. Three months later, he connected Niknejad with an Islamic State supporter abroad via Surespot in order to facilitate his travel to the terror group. Amin also arranged for the Islamic State sympathizer to send the package to the U.S.
Both males involved were born abroad — Amin in Sudan and Niknejad in Iran. They moved to the U.S. in their early youth and became naturalized U.S. citizens, according to The Washington Post.
Niknejad attended the same high school as Amin — Osbourn Park High School. He graduated in 2014, according to Phil Kavits, communications director for Prince William County Public Schools, who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation. The person who drove Amin and Niknejad to the airport was identified as a 17 year-old who attended the same high school.
The FBI did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s repeated requests for comment.
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