As ISIS tries to recruit American youths, stopping them has proved challenging, not only for the families of the young would-be extremists, but for the US government too. Ali Shukri Amin of Virginia was just 17 when he pleaded guilty to helping Islamic State militants last year. Using the alias Amreeki Witness, he was active on social media leading up to his arrest for helping a schoolmate to join ISIS in Syria.
Reuters correspondent Yasmeen Abutaleb.>> In our reporting, we found that a number of people tried to intervene in the two years before Ali Amin was arrested. His mom, a local Imam, the State Department's Twitter account, but the efforts were a scatter shot and it's still not clear what works.
>> In coming weeks, the Department of Homeland Security plans to offer $10 million in grants to local groups, from faith leaders, to mental health counselors, to local governments and law enforcement. Whether that would have helped Amin, we don't know. But former Taliban fighter turned counter radicalization expert Mubin Shaikh tried to engage him online from Canada.
>> I felt I had a sense of responsibility. That I had this experience that I had gone through. And I felt that I could give that informed perspective.>> The two exchanged messages on LinkedIn. According to a letter Amin's mother wrote to the court, he'd grown used to spending time alone since being diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 10.
Shaikh says Amin felt empowered through his association with ISIS.>> It was also a way for him to be somebody online, but in reality you're just a scrawny little kid. And now you can associate yourself with this group like ISIS which is getting attention everywhere. And the fear of everybody.
And then you can just latch onto that and say, I'm with ISIS, don't mess with me.>> Last year, Amin was sentenced to 11 years in federal prison.