DePaul student Thomas Osadzinski is convicted after being charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) — accused of writing software bots to enable the propagation of ISIS propaganda (CBS Chicago report in November 2019 when the charge was announced. YouTube Tips ⓘ
CHICAGO — A federal jury on Monday, October 18, 2021, convicted a Chicago male resident of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Thomas Osadzinski was born in Park Ridge, Illinois and was a student at DePaul University when he was charged on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. Osadzinski has been held without bond at the Metropolitan Correction Center Chicago (MCC Chicago).
The jury convicted Thomas Osadzinski, 22, after a two-week trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago. 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. U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman did not immediately set a sentencing date.
The conviction was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Mark Lesko, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the U.S. Department of Justice; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.
The case was investigated by the Chicago Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barry Jonas and Melody Wells of the Northern District of Illinois, and Alexandra Hughes, Trial Attorney of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
“ISIS and its supporters disseminate the terror group’s propaganda materials online to as wide an audience as possible in order to recruit fighters and inspire violence against the United States and other countries. Social media platforms routinely remove ISIS media content due to the violent nature of the materials. According to the complaint, Osadzinski’s computer process would automatically copy and preserve ISIS media postings in an organized format, allowing social media users to continue to conveniently access and disseminate the content.”+
— United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Illinois
Evidence presented at trial revealed that ISIS and its supporters disseminated the terror group’s propaganda materials on social media to recruit fighters and inspire violence against the United States and other countries. Many social media platforms remove ISIS media content due to the violent nature of the materials. Osadzinski, a U.S. citizen, designed a process using a computer script to make ISIS propaganda more conveniently disseminated online. The process would automatically copy and preserve ISIS media postings in an organized format, allowing social media users to continue to conveniently access and share the content.
Osadzinski in 2019 shared his script – and instructions for how to use it – with individuals whom he believed to be ISIS supporters and members of pro-ISIS media organizations. Unbeknownst to Osadzinski, the individuals were actually covert FBI employees and a person confidentially working with law enforcement. Osadzinski explained that because of an unnamed Social Media Platform’s limitation of 500 messages per minute by a bot, when the first bot reaches 500 messages, the Python script automatically rolls over to a second bot, and when the second bot reaches 500 messages, the Python script automatically rolls over to a third bot, and so forth. According to Osadzinski, the script rotates through a total of eight bots before starting again with bot one. By utilizing this Python script, Osadzinski was able to rapidly and automatically copy ISIS media channels on Social Media Platform 1 without being banned. Social Media Platform 1 was not identified by court documents, but some media sources have identified the social media platform by feature match or other resources as Telegram.
In the criminal complaint the FBI testified that on or about June 6, 2018, Osadzinski, used a social media account in a pro-ISIS chatroom called “Weapons,” and posted a picture of instructions for manufacturing TATP (triacetone triperoxide) — a compound used for improvised explosives. In the chatroom Osadzinski, asked if anyone in the chatroom had the video that went with the TATP instructions. Osadzinski and others in the chatroom discussed security measures to take while acquiring TATP ingredients and tips for handling explosives ingredients. Later in the conversation, Osadzinski described a video that was officially released by ISIS with English subtitles on how to make a chemical explosive in a kitchen. Osadzinski described that he would not be using TATP anytime soon.
Around February 9, 2019, an FBI Online Covert Employee told Osadzinski he would be added to the group of members for Pro-ISIS Media Organization. In response, Osadzinski sent a picture to the Online Covert Emplopyee of two individuals embracing, with the ISIS flag in the top right corner, along with an ISIS flag with a heart graphic overlay. Around February 10, 2019, Osadzinski told the FBI Online Covert Employee (in Arabic), “I know English well. If you need help tell me…”
Around November 2, 2019, Osadzinski, unsolicited, sent an FBI Online Covert Employee an image of an ISIS flag with a handwritten note that stated, “I RENEW MY PLEDGE TO ABU IBRAHIM AL-HASHIMI AL-QURASHI, IN THE LAND OF AMERICA.” In November 2019, ISIS announced Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi as the new leader of ISIS, following of death of the prior leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
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