Thursday, December 2, 2021

US student faces jail for helping Islamic State

On Monday, a former college student in Chicago was convicted of trying to provide material support to the Islamic State group.

Prosecutors said Tomas Osadzinski, 22, wrote computer code to help IS bypass programs designed to block the group’s propaganda. The former DePaul University student who was born in the suburbs of Chicago was living in the city when he was arrested in 2019 during an FBI investigation. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

His lawyer, Joshua Herman, said during the closing debate that the case focused on the right to free speech and that Osadzinsky had the right to watch and publish the video.

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“Loving ISIS is not illegal,” Herman said in court.

But the prosecutor’s office argued that Osadzinsky worked with the consent or under the direction of IS. Authorities said Osadzinsky bragged about his computer skills and ability to speak Arabic in his messages, and boasted that he would use weapons and explosives when necessary to evade the authorities.

Assistant US Attorney Melody Wells said Osadzinsky was responding to the group’s directives to support “on the digital front.”

“There is nothing independent about it,” Wells said.

The jury, who deliberated for four hours starting Friday, returned their verdict Monday in Chicago federal court. The trial lasted two weeks.

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