Teen IS Supporter in Virginia was a Staple of IS Online Community

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Ali Shukri Amin, a 17 year-old Islamic State (IS) supporter who plead guilty to conspiring to send support to the group, once maintained a high profile on social media.

Under the alias, “Amreeki Witness,” Amin managed a blog, an Ask.fm account, and a popular Twitter account within the online jihadist movement.

Amin’s Twitter account, the most prominent of his social media profiles, showed constant activity. On September 4, 2014, for example, the user made at least 30 tweets/retweets, including messages condemning the “kuffar [disbelievers]” and praising of convicted jihadist Aafia Siddiqui. Within three months, Amin amassed close to eight thousand tweets and four thousand followers, and was already in communication with prominent IS fighters and recruiters.

In the about section, Amin claimed his profile to be “Dedicated to raising awareness about the upcoming conquest of the Americas, and the benefits it has upon the American people.” To that statement, his banner picture showed the top of the White House with the IS-affiliated black flag on top:


A review of Amin’s online activity show his recognition and following from IS fighters and supporters. Amin also repeatedly expressed and demonstrated poise to help IS’s operations online, and expressed a complicated opinion on lone wolf attacks.

Statements on Social Media

To the like of other IS supporters in the U.S., Amin’s Twitter account commented on many domestic American issues through the ideology of IS. In wake of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Amin tweeted of the matter, characterizing himself as an IS supporter to those protesting:

They call us terrorists. They call you thugs. You don't believe one, why do you believe the other?

In these tweets, Amin contributed to IS supporters’ incitements and mobilization efforts with hashtags like “#FergusonUnderIS,” “#ISISHERO,” and “#JihadinFerguson.” He even appeared to make calls for attacks in Ferguson, tweeting a call for God to “incite righteous jihad” in the town, along with a shot of a pro-IS banner shown in the protests:


However, Amin detailed his stance on attacking civilians sometime around September of 2014, after a user on Ask.fm asked him about IS Spokesman Abu Mohammad al-‘Adnani’s call to kill civilians. Amin replied:

Killing men from the kuffar [disbelievers] is halal [permissible]. I don't think it's the wisest choice. Uthaymeen released a fatwa saying killing children of kuffar through qisas is halal. I disagree with that as well. Killing the men without a treaty is halal, this is well known from the Sunnah [tradition of the Prophet].

The user also spent time in arguments with the “ThinkAgainTurnAway” Twitter account, run by the U.S. State Department as an effort to counter jihadist propaganda. In August of 2014, Amin entered an argument between the State Department and the pro-al-Qaeda (AQ) account of “Abu Dujanah.” After the State Department asserted that “those who follow #BinLaden's path will share his fate” and listed names of killed jihadi fighters, Amin tweeted that “these men are martyrs, insha'Allah [God willing], with their souls in pure ecstasy roaming the vastness of eternal paradise.”

After the State Department rebutted that those mentioned fighters “slaughter[ed] innocents,” Amin illustrated his following of deceased American jihadi recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed along with his son by a U.S. drone strike:

slaughter innocents? You mean like AbdurRahman al-Awlaki, the 16 year old boy not involved with any militants?
or what about the thousands killed in drone strikes weekly that make the news? The thousands that don't?
you are nothing more than criminals who betray the Muslims you claim to defend across the globe, butchering them
1.7 million in Iraq, hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan, left, right, everywhere. only an ignoramus who knows nothing about American foreign policy or any Muslim country could accept your lies.
which is why the American school system is so poor, eh? Gotta' keep them stupid to keep them in line!

Also notable is that Amin’s profile picture appeared to mock that of the State Department’s, showing the edge of its seal with the emblem of the Prophet’s ring inside (as is also shown on the IS-associated black flag).

Communication with Prominent IS Fighters

Amin’s persistent activity on Twitter granted him a following of prominent fighters on Twitter in less than two months. Among those following Amin was prominent fighter and IS supporter in Somalia, “Mujahid Miski” (the username of an American named Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan). Miski is considered to be instrumental in inspiring the May 3, 2015 attack by Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan and Nadir Soofi on a Texas cartoon contest.

To the aforementioned posts regarding protests in Ferguson, Amin retweeted a post by Miski:


The user had also been mentioned alongside Miski in a tweet by Abu Abdullah Britani, a prominent recruiter and member of jihadi fighting group Rayat al-Tawheed. Abu Abdullah tweeted in part:

Just realized the Daily Mail's article featuring me, @Muhammad_Miski and @AmreekiWitness was a new low in journalism

Also appearing to have shared conversations with Amin was "Duale Khalid" (the Twitter account of Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American IS fighter killed in Syria). Tweets from the fighter show him discussing America with Amin.

Other notable accounts to have followed Amin were those of IS fighter “Abu Dujana,” Canadian IS fighter “Abu Turaab” (Mohammed Ali), and alleged IS fighter “Life of a Mujahid.”


{L to R: Abu Abdullah Britani, Abu Turaan, Duale Khalid, and Mujahid Miski}

Attempts to Assist IS Online

Amin appeared poised to contribute to the safety of other IS supporters and to help the community thrive online. On August 20, 2014, Amin posted a blog entry, titled, “Remaining Anonymous Online.” The entry claimed, “The United States government, the government of the United Kingdom, France, and elsewhere, want to jail you. They want you to suffer. And they aren’t playing games.”

The entry followed up with sections detailing the uses of resources like Ghost VPN, TOR, and TAILS OS, while suggesting ways to stay safe on social media. Regarding social media, the user suggested that jihadists make accounts only with select browsers, and then instructed:

Do not post pictures or any indication of who you are explicitly. If you feel the need to alter your writing style a bit, if you were a popular page, do so. You can make subtle indications that this is so and so, however, nothing that can be proven in a court of law.

Amin also publicly expressed desires to assist in IS’s online media dissemination. On August 19, 2014, he tweeted that IS “cannot keep using JustPaste and releasing their media releases” and needed “an official website ASAP.” Calling for the creation of such a website, he offered:


In September of 2014, Amin even suggested that jihad be expanded into Latin America:


“Amin is not a unique case,” said SITE Director Rita Katz. “As long as Twitter continues to be the main house for the Islamic State, stories like Amin’s conspiracy, Usama Rahim’s attempted attack in Boston, and Elton Simpson’s attack in Texas will remain frequent headlines.”

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