Harrisburg man sentenced for social media support of ISIL
HARRISBURG, P.A. — Jalil Aziz, 21, will be under the U.S. governments watch for, at least, the next 25 years.
A judge ruled Wednesday afternoon that Aziz will serve 160 months, or a little over 13 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support and resources to ISIL and transmitting a communication containing a threat to injure.
Upon his release, he will be under supervised release for another 12 years.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked for 25 years in prison, but respected the judge’s decision.
“This investigation most likely saved Mr Aziz’ life. I believe that firmly. But I wonder how many other lives it saved and I certainly do believe it saved many other lives,” said Dave Free, U.S. Attorney for Middle Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors say Aziz operated roughly 70 twitter accounts, reaching thousands of followers, tweeting support for ISIL.
They say he also helped spread a “kill list” of names, addresses and info of 100 US military members, promoting their assassinations.
“This was way more than talk. This was active assistance to terrorist groups. I think it’s striking when you look and see that this can absolutely happen anywhere,” said Free.
While tweeting, prosecutors say he was amassing items, such as automatic rifle magazines and ammunition, to potential carry out an attack himself.
In court, Aziz’ defense said he was a “wannabe” and “worked with his thumbs.”
While his defense admitted his twitter postings were “disgusting,” they argued Aziz committed no acts of violence.
Aziz spoke to the court, himself, apologizing for his actions.
He said the “praise” he received from ISIL supporters made him feel “important for the first time” in his life.
He also says his tweets are behind him but admits to having a long way to go.
Aziz’ support group, the TAM Group, and family say they feel mixed emotions because while they expected a lesser sentence, the judge gave him a lighter sentence than what the government requested.
“You may have an intellectual depravity, you may not know certain word but when you’re heart speaks, everyone can feel that and I think the judge felt it,” said Kareem Abdus-Salaam, a board member with TAM Group and a family friend.
His support group says Aziz had a very difficult upbringing, leading to his online radicalization.
But family members and Abdus-Salaam say they’ll work to help Aziz normalize socially during his sentence.
“The fact that he went to his parents, his grandmother, his brother and sister and was tearful…let me know, especially, a person who’s been real anti-anyone, was very touching to see. Did I want to see it in this environment? No. But the fact it was done- I feel hopeful,” said Abdus-Salaam.
Aziz is also responsible for more than $6,600 in restitution for security used by the military families issued in the “kill list.”
He will also have to allow constant searches and monitoring of any of his devices during his supervised release by law enforcement officials.