Police officer for D.C. subway system accused of trying to help ISIS
WASHINGTON - A D.C. subway system police officer has been arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, marking the first time a U.S. law enforcement officer has been accused of trying to aid the terrorist...
WASHINGTON - A D.C. subway system police officer has been arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State, marking the first time a U.S. law enforcement officer has been accused of trying to aid the terrorist group.
Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, Virginia, was arrested Wednesday morning at Metro Transit Police headquarters in Washington, D.C., and his employment was terminated. Young sent codes for mobile messaging cards to an undercover federal agent in the belief that they would be used by Islamic State fighters overseas to communicate, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Authorities, who had been surveilling Young for six years, said there was never any credible or specific threat to the Metro system. But the court papers detail vague threats over the years to kill FBI agents and informants or bring guns into federal court. Young allegedly threatened to kidnap and torture an agent who interviewed him, and leave the head of anyone who betrayed him in a cinder block at the bottom of a Virginia lake.
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 Metro Transit Police since 2003 and has been monitored regularly by the FBI, working with transit police, since 2010.
"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.
According to the criminal complaint, Young was focused on activity abroad, not in the D.C. area, and the FBI did not take his threats against agents seriously. He told law enforcement at one point that he had traveled to Libya twice in 2011 to fight against Moammar Gaddafi. And he allegedly gave a person working with law enforcement advice on how to travel to Syria - including how to avoid undercover agents. Believing the person had actually made it abroad, authorities said Young then complied with a request to purchase gift cards for mobile messaging accounts used in Islamic State recruiting. The codes, worth $245 according to authorities, were redeemed by the FBI.
Authorities say Young, a convert to Islam, was acquainted with two men who eventually were convicted in terrorism cases. Young knew 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 was arrested in 2012 for plotting to bomb the Capitol, the court papers said.
At various points, according to the criminal complaint, Young told agents - both undercover and not - that he tortured animals as a child, had dressed up as Jihadi John at a 2014 Halloween party and also has dressed up as a Nazi and collected Nazi memorabilia. He showed an agent a tattoo of a German eagle on his neck, according to court documents.
That display occurred last June, when law enforcement came to Young's house in response to an allegation of domestic violence, according to the criminal complaint.
Young appears to own a large number of firearms. 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 semiautomatic AK-47 RPK, an 8mm Mauser rifle and a World War II-era Russian Nagant rifle, according to the court papers.
Authorities on Wednesday had police tape around Young's suburban Virginia townhouse. Some neighbors said they did not know Young but often spotted him working on his truck.
Dina Ahmad, a resident in Young's neighborhood for 13 years, said Young seemed to keep to himself, and it caught her off guard to learn he was an officer.
"That makes it even worse," Ahmad said of the allegations.
During the years he was surveilled 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 trying to move money out of the country 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."
A spokesman with the FBI Washington Field Office referred questions about specifics of the case to the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria, Virginia.