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Virginia teen pleads guilty to teaching Bitcoin to ISIS

isis flag with a bitcoin logo incorporated in

A reminder: Bitcoin’s not actually anonymous.

A Virginia teenager has pleaded guilty to using Twitter to teach members of the terrorist Islamic State how to use Bitcoin.

Ali Shukri Amin, 17, admitted Thursday that he was behind the the now-suspended Twitter account @Amreekiwitness, which at one point had over 4,000 followers. Through it, according to a Department of Justice statement on Amin, he provided instructions on how to use the world’s dominant online cryptocurrency, and how to set up a Bitcoin wallet for would-be donors. In corresponding blog posts, Amin added more advanced tips, like recommending the use of the anonymizing Dark Wallet.

He was charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a terrorist organization, charges that carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Amin, an honor student at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas prior to his March 4 arrest, also admitted to assisting 18-year-old Virginia resident Reza Niknejad with traveling Syria to join IS.

It is unclear whether Amin will be charged as a juvenile. The designated Department of Justice spokesperson was not available for comment at press time.

“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that those who use social media as a tool to provide support and resources to [IS] will be identified and prosecuted with no less vigilance than those who travel to take up arms” said U.S. Attorney Dana Boente.  

Illustration by Max Fleishman

William Turton

William Turton

Once named one of Forbes’ 20 Under 20 and hired as a staff writer for the Daily Dot when he was still a senior in high school, William Turton is a rising tech reporter focusing on information security, hacking culture, and politics. Since leaving the Daily Dot in April 2016, his work has appeared on Gizmodo, the Outline, and Vice News Tonight on HBO.