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Virginia Teen Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Support Islamic State

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The FBI is pointing to a case in Virginia as a reminder of how persistent and pervasive online radicalization has become. Today a teenager there admitted to using Twitter to inspire others to join the violent conflict in Syria. NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Ali Shukri Amin is a 17-year-old with scruffy, dark hair, so skinny that he barely fills out his jail- issued jumpsuit. But Amin's voice was firm as he told Judge Claude Hilton he was guilty of conspiring to support the self-proclaimed Islamic State. U.S. Attorney Dana Boente says the case against Amin is the latest in a string of arrests over the lure of the group he calls ISIL.

DANA BOENTE: Law enforcement has seen an unprecedented use of social media by ISIL. They're just kind of flooding the airwaves.

JOHNSON: Authorities say Amin became an influential figure online, urging people to donate Bitcoin, virtual currency, to send fighters to Syria. Andrew McCabe is assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office.

ANDREW MCCABE: Amin made ISIL propaganda accessible to Western supporters and he provided justifications for ISIL actions, including the beheading of journalists.

JOHNSON: Defense lawyer Joseph Flood told reporters outside the courthouse, his client deeply regrets his actions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOSEPH FLOOD: Ali's a very smart guy. He's a good kid. He was an honor student. No history of violence, no history of criminal activity.

JOHNSON: Amin could win a reduction in his prison sentence in exchange for cooperating with the FBI. Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.