Nicholas Young, a 36-year-old Washington, D.C.-area transit police officer, has been arrested in an FBI sting and charged with attempting to support the terrorist group known as the Islamic State.
Young, a 12-year veteran of the transit police force, was charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. According to the FBI, Young bought nearly $250 in gift cards that he intended to send to ISIS fighters, who would be able to use it to facilitate communication. Young believed he was giving the cards to a member of the militant group, but he actually gave them to an undercover FBI source.
Young has been under surveillance since 2010 and is known to have traveled to Libya twice in 2011, where he said he joined rebel forces to oust the former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Officials added that Young did not pose any threat to the Metro system in the U.S. capital, but law enforcement added that in one of many conversations that Nick had with undercover officers, Young said that he hated the FBI and was skilled enough to attack the agency.
The FBI source posed as a U.S. military member of Middle Eastern descent who was becoming more religious. Young himself is believed to have converted to Islam some years ago.
According to the official report, after the undercover agent told Young that he had left the US to join ISIS, the two continued to communicate through email. It was in an email that Young "proudly" referenced the attacks on Parisian news source Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. "Not sure if you got the news yet," he wrote in an email. "A couple brothers...were named in an assault on a French newspaper...Hopefully now people understand there are some lines you don't cross."
In an interview with police on June 1, Young also revealed that he had previously dressed up in a "Jihadi John" costume and had also dressed up as a Nazi and collects Nazi memorabilia. He also revealed a tattoo of a German eagle on his neck.
In a news briefing, Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said, "Obviously, the allegations in this case are profoundly disturbing. They're disturbing to me and they're disturbing to everyone who wears this uniform." He added, "On behalf of the Metro Transit Police Department, I want to thank the FBI and the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for their investigative work leading to today's indictment."
Young is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court on Wednesday. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.
(Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)