For the first time, a U.S. law enforcement officer has been charged with aiding the Islamic State. And his job was to protect the subway system of the nation’s capital, an enticing target for any terrorist group.
On Wednesday, Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, Va., was arrested at Metro Transit Police headquarters in Washington and charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Young had been under surveillance since 2010, when he was questioned in connection with Zachary Chesser, an American booster of Islamist jihad who threatened the creators of the South Park television show for mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Since then, Young had multiple meetings with undercover FBI informants, who recorded the Metro cop’s trip to Libya to fight with anti-Qaddafi rebels in 2011. By 2014, he was advising the undercover agent on how to avoid detection while traveling. In June 2015, Young asked the undercover informant, who he thought was his contact already fighting overseas with ISIS, how he could financially support the group.
In July of this year, Young sent mobile-messaging gift cards to what he thought was his contact in ISIS but what in reality was an FBI agent. According to an indictment filed in federal court in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Young sent the codes, worth about $250, to an undercover U.S. law enforcement agent in the hope that they would be used by the Islamic State.
Officials said Young was never a threat to the Metro system, which serves Washington and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.
“Obviously, the allegations in this case are profoundly disturbing. They’re disturbing to me, and they’re disturbing to everyone who wears the uniform,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said in a statement.
But according to the indictment, Young had a broad array of targets he wanted to strike.
That included FBI agents, who he threatened to kill. He also wanted to bring guns to federal court. Young also vowed to kidnap and torture an FBI agent who had interviewed him; he said he would leave the severed head of anyone who turned on him at the bottom of a lake.
But the agents never took his threats seriously, and it appears as if Young was more focused on striking targets abroad as opposed to inside the United States. He was ultimately busted when he counseled someone working with law enforcement on how to travel to Syria. Once convinced his contact had made it successfully to the Middle East, he bought the messaging gift cards.
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