Washington Transit Officer Charged With Helping ISIS

Source: New York Times
A police officer with the Washington transit system has become the first American law enforcement officer to be charged with supporting the Islamic State, accused of trying to send financial help to the group after advising a friend on how to travel to Syria to join it.

In court papers filed on Tuesday and made public on Wednesday, federal law enforcement officials charged the officer, Nicholas Young, with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

The charge is based on the allegation that Mr. Young bought gift cards worth $245 and sent their code numbers to someone he believed had joined ISIS in Syria, to help the group pay for mobile phone messaging with its supporters in the West.

The documents state that agents had been shadowing Mr. Young for almost six years, that he went to Libya twice in 2011 to aid a rebel group fighting Muammar el-Qaddafi, and that he had associated with two people convicted in 2012 on terrorism charges: Amine El Khalifi, who pleaded guilty to plotting a suicide bombing at the United States Capitol; and Zachary A. Chesser, who admitted to trying to join the Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamist terror group, and to threatening violence against the creators of the television show “South Park.”

Mr. Young, a United States citizen who lives in Fairfax, Va., joined the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s police force in 2003. The authority, which said he was dismissed after his arrest on Wednesday, would not say where he was assigned or what kind of work he did.

An undercover law enforcement officer who befriended and monitored him in 2011 and 2012 reported that Mr. Young had spoken of committing violence against the F.B.I., including using gasoline to set agents’ cars on fire and kidnapping and torturing an agent who had interviewed his family members and co-workers, according to an affidavit by an F.B.I. agent, David Martinez.

The affidavit says that Mr. Young knew he was probably under surveillance and that he took steps to evade it, like using disposable phones. But it said he did talk to the undercover officer about sneaking weapons into a federal courthouse, and stockpiling weapons.

Mr. Young came under F.B.I. scrutiny in 2010 because of his acquaintance with Mr. Chesser, and then he and the undercover officer met several times in 2011 with Mr. Khalifi and discussed violent jihad, the affidavit says.

In 2014, an F.B.I. informant posing as an American military veteran who supported ISIS met 20 times with Mr. Young, Agent Martinez wrote. Mr. Young advised him on how to set up anonymous email and text messaging accounts, how to travel to Syria to join ISIS without being caught, and even what gear he should take, the agent said.

Mr. Young believed the other man went to Syria and kept in touch with him electronically, but in fact, he was communicating with F.B.I. agents posing as his friend, according to the affidavit. When Mr. Young asked how he could send money to ISIS without being detected, the agents requested the gift cards, and he bought them and sent the serial numbers last week, it says.

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