Help ISIS, US Students Face the Threat of 20 Years in Prison

A former Chicago student was sentenced Monday for trying to provide beneficial support for the Islamic State group.

Thomas Osadzinski, age 22, devised a computer code that helped ISIS evade programs designed to block the group’s propaganda, prosecutors said. The former DePaul University student, born in a Chicago suburb, lived in the city when he was arrested in 2019 in a raid by the FBI. Thomas faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

His lawyer, Joshua Herman, said in his closing argument that the case was related to the right to free speech and argued that Osadzinski had the right to watch and share videos.

“Liking ISIS is not illegal,” Herman told the court.

But prosecutors allege Osadzinski was involved in coordinating or at the direction of ISIS. Authorities said Osadzinski had boasted in several talks about his computer skills and his ability to speak Arabic. He also boasted that he would use weapons and explosives to evade the authorities, if necessary.

Assistant US Attorney Melody Wells said Osadzinski was responding to the group’s directive to provide his support “on the digital front.”

“There’s nothing independent about this,” Wells said.

The jury, which deliberated for four hours starting last Friday, made its decision Monday in Chicago federal court. The trial lasted two weeks. [mg/jm]

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