Police officer for DC subway system accused of trying to help ISIS
A Metro Transit police officer has been arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, marking the first time a US law enforcement officer has been accused of trying to aide the terrorist group.
Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, Virginia, was arrested on Wednesday morning (Thursday NZ Time) at Metropolitan Police Headquarters in Washington and his employment was terminated. Young, at the request of an undercover federal agent, sent codes for mobile messaging cards that Young believed would be used by Islamic State fighters overseas to communicate, according to an indictment filed in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Authorities said there was never any credible or specific threat to the Metro system. Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said in a statement that the investigation into Young began years ago when his office went to the FBI with concerns.
According to authorities, Young has been with the Metro police since 2003 and has been monitored regularly by the FBI, working with Metro police, since 2010.
According to the indictment, Young was focused on activity abroad, not in the DC area. He told law enforcement at one point that he had travelled to Libya twice in 2011 to fight against the late Moammar Gadhafi. He gave a person working with law enforcement advice on how to travel to Syria. Believing the person had actually made it abroad, Young then allegedly complied with a request to purchase gift cards for mobile messaging accounts used in Islamic State recruiting. The codes, worth US$245 according to authorities, were redeemed by the FBI.
At various points, according to the indictment, Young told agents - both undercover and not - that he tortured animals as a child, had dressed up as Jihadi John and as a Nazi, and collected Nazi memorabilia. He showed an agent a tattoo of a German eagle on his neck, according to the indictment.
That conversation occurred last June, when law enforcement came to Young's house in response to an allegation of domestic violence, according to the indictment.
Young also talked to an undercover agent about killing FBI agents and bringing guns into the agency headquarters or the Alexandria, Virginia, courthouse, the indictment said. However, the agent doubted Young intended to act on his words, according to the documents.
However, Young did appear to own a large number of firearms, according to the indictment. A Metro police officer told authorities that during an off-duty weapons training event last March, Young brought an Egyptian AK-47, a Kimber 1911 .45 caliber pistol, and an AK-47 AMD rifle. The training officer told the FBI that Young also owned a semi-automatic AK-47 RPK, an 8mm Mauser rifle and a World War II-era Russian Negeant rifle.
Authorities say Young was acquainted with both Zachary Chesser, who in 2010 admitted trying to join a Somali terrorist group and made threats to the creators of TV's South Park, and Amine El Khalifi, who the following year was arrested for plotting to bomb the capitol.
During the years he was surveiled and contacted by both FBI agents and undercover operatives, Young expressed concern about such tactics. He told associates he had several "burner phones," according to a court affidavit, and regularly took the battery out of his cell phone to avoid detection. He warned associates to avoid social media. When asked by the person working with law enforcement to send money abroad last year, Young allegedly said, "Unfortunately I have enough flags on my name that I can't even buy a plane ticket without little alerts ending up in someone's hands."
- The Washington Post