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Virginia Teen Sentenced to Prison in ISIS Case

Ali Shukri Amin, 17, of Manassas, Virginia on Friday became the youngest person in the US sentenced to prison for supporting the ISIS terror group.
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A high school honors student from suburban Washington, DC on Friday became the youngest person in the U.S. sentenced to prison for supporting the ISIS terror group.

Ali Shukri Amin, 17, of Manassas, Virginia, was sentenced to eleven years and four months in federal prison for helping a friend get to Syria to join ISIS.

Amin pleaded guilty in June, admitting that he secretly ran a Twitter account called @AmreekiWitness and urged his 4,000 followers to contribute money to ISIS anonymously. He then figured out how to make contact with ISIS supporters overseas who agreed to help him get an 18-year-old high school classmate to Syria to join the terror group.

Amin admitted driving his friend, Reza Niknejad, to Dulles airport in January and offering tips on how to find contacts overseas.

Niknejad is now believed to be in Syria and faces terrorism charges of his own. In court documents, prosecutors said he called his mother not long after leaving the US, telling her would "fight against these people who oppress the Muslims" and would see her in the afterlife.

Related: Virginia Teen Pleads Guilty to Helping ISIS

The federal government rarely prosecutes juveniles, but Amin was charged as an adult. Justice Department lawyers called for a punishment of 15 years and said that outcome would put potential terrorists on notice that they "will be met with crushing sentences."

Harsh punishment, the government said, was also appropriate because Niknejad, under the best outcome, would return to the US to be prosecuted. "It is far more likely, unfortunately, that he will accomplish the goal that this defendant set out for him -- martyrdom."

Amin's lawyers urged federal Judge Claude Hilton to impose a sentence of just over six years, noting that he has cooperated extensively since his arrest, helping with terrorism investigations.

In a letter to the judge, Amin himself denounced ISIS. The jihadists he met online, he explained, treated him with respect. "For the first time I felt that I was not only being taken seriously about very important and weighty topics, but was actually being asked for guidance."

Now, he said, he feels ashamed for "my own arrogance and my own need to feel I was doing something historic and important."