A former college student from the Chicago area was convicted Monday by a federal jury of attempting to provide material assistance to ISIS, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
Thomas Osadzinski, a 22-year-old former student at DePaul University, was accused of designing a computer script that would make it easier for the terrorist organization to spread its message on social media, according to a DOJ press release.
While many social media platforms remove ISIS propaganda materials dues to the content’s violent nature, the script developed by Osadzinski would automatically copy and preserve ISIS media postings in an organized format, allowing users to continue to conveniently access and share the content.
Osadzinski, a Chicago local residing in the city when he was arrested in 2019, shared his script with individuals whom he believed to be ISIS supporters and members of pro-ISIS media organizations, but who were in fact FBI personnel running a sting operation, the prosecutor said.
At various points during his conversations with FBI employees disguised as ISIS sympathizers, Osadzinski lauded his computer skills and the ability to speak very limited Arabic, and suggested he was ready to use a gun or explosives if needed.
Osadzinski’s defense attorneys argued that their client possessed only rudimentary, college-level computer skill, and that his online behavior, despite the radical content in his messages, could be more accurately described as that of an “internet troll” desperately seeking acceptance from others.
The young man “did not provide funds to ISIS, plan violent activity, acquire weapons, or take any tangible steps to causing real-world harm,” the attorneys said, according to Chicago Sun-Times. They also noted that Osadzinski failed a computer class at DePaul.
The judge did not immediately set Osadzinski’s sentence, but the charge of attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.
Osadzinski’s conviction comes months after an Illinois man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to ISIS.
Joseph D. Jones, 38, was convicted in March by a federal jury on one count of conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS in 2019. According to DOJ, Jones began meeting with undercover FBI personnel and discussed commitment to ISIS principles. In 2017, Jones furnished cellular phones to one of the cooperating individuals, with the understanding that the phones would be used to detonate explosive devices in ISIS attacks. He also drove that individual to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, believing that the person would travel to Syria to join ISIS.