US Attorney “Metro Transit police officer arrested for attempting to support ISIL.”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

Thanks to a reader for passing on this frightening news. From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Virginia:

“Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, who is employed as a police officer with the Metro Transit Police Department, was arrested today on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Young will have his initial appearance here at 2 p.m. today in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Young has been employed as a police officer with the Metro Transit Police Department since 2003. Law enforcement first interviewed Young in September 2010 in connection with his acquaintance, Zachary Chesser, who one month later pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists. Over the next several years Young had numerous interactions with undercover law enforcement officers and a cooperating witness regarding Young’s knowledge or interest of terrorist related activity, many of which were recorded. Law enforcement also interviewed Young’s family and co-workers. Several meetings Young had with an undercover law enforcement officer in 2011 included another of Young’s acquaintances, Amine El Khalifi, who later pleaded guilty to charges relating to attempting a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol Building in 2012.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Young told FBI agents that he traveled to Libya twice in 2011 and he had been with rebels attempting to overthrow the Muammar Qaddafi regime. Baggage searches revealed that Young traveled with body armor, a kevlar helmet, and several other military-style items.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, in 2014, Young met on about 20 separate occasions with an FBI confidential human source (CHS) posing as a U.S. military reservist of Middle Eastern descent who was becoming more religious and eager to leave the U.S. military as a result of having had to fight against Muslims during his deployment to Iraq. During these conversations Young advised CHS on how to evade law enforcement detection by utilizing specific travel methods and advised CHS to watch out for informants and not discuss his plans with others.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, in Fall 2014, CHS led Young to believe that he had successfully left the United States and had joined ISIL. In reality, CHS had no further contact with Young. All further communications between Young and CHS’s email account were actually communications between Young and FBI undercover personnel posing as CHS. In June 2015, Young emailed CHS asking for advice from CHS’s commanders on how to send his money overseas. Young said, “[u]nfortunately 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, so I imagine banking transactions are automatically monitored and will flag depending on what is going on.”

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, in December 2015, the FBI interviewed Young, ostensibly in connection with an investigation into the whereabouts of CHS. Young said that CHS had left the United States to go on a vacation tour in Turkey approximately one year ago. Young said that he knew of no one in the United States or overseas who helped CHS cross the Turkish border into Syria.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on July 18, 2016, Young communicated with whom he believed to be CHS regarding purchasing of gift cards for mobile messaging accounts ISIL uses in recruiting. On July 28, 2016, Young sent 22 sixteen digit gift card codes to the FBI undercover with a message that stated: “Respond to verify receipt . . . may not answer depending on when as this device will be destroyed after all are sent to prevent the data being possibly seen on this end in the case of something unfortunate.” The codes were ultimately redeemed by the FBI for $245.

Young faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Paul M. Abbate, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon D. Kromberg and John T. Gibbs, and Trial Attorney David Cora of the National Security Division.

The Metro Transit Police Department initiated this investigation and continues to work collaboratively with the FBI Washington Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force on the case.”

42 Comment

  • Props to the FBI!

  • That’s more effort and dedication than I would have expected from a metro employee.

  • I’m pretty sure Weidefeld has the hardest job in DC. I feel for that guy. I’m sure he knew he was stepping into a warm pile of poo, but man, have things gotten worse since he started.

    • have they? or is he shining some sunlight?

      • Yeah, I think it’s just that Weidefeld is actually doing something about all the problems that get the attention and make it seem like Metro is worse. Before, they were pretty much letting the system just rot. Although the whole “one of our cops tried to join ISIS” isn’t something I expect any head of a transit agency to anticipate.

    • I think things were always bad – there’s just more transparency now.

      • You’re right. I just mean he has to be the messenger of such bad news that he had no part in creating. I wonder if he had any idea of the real scope of the issues. If he managers to turn WMATA around, he’s a hero.

  • I wonder what motivates someone with a decent, stable job to get involved with a terror organization. Now he’s looking at 20 years in prison, and what did he personally stand to gain from it?

    • To take down the Great Satan. Or at least the red line. Oh, wait…

    • I wouldn’t assume his motivation had anything to do with personal gain.

      • I agree. For better or for worse, many people’s actions aren’t motivated by what benefits them personally.

    • Anti-government and extreme libertarian types are, strangely, drawn to police and military work. It’s so bizarre. This does not surprise me in the least bit

      • I don’t think you understand libertarianism. I suppose some anarchists may be drawn to the military (think Timothy McVeigh), but I know of no true libertarian who wants to actually work for the man.
        .
        In any event, why do you think this guy was anti-government or an “extreme libertarian”? If he was courting ISIS (or vice versa), that’s not really anti-government as much as it is anti-America. Most libertarians are peaceniks, not blow-up-DC-niks.

        • “I don’t think you understand libertarianism.”

          Only because its a bullshit political philosophy and so there’s not much to really understand. I dont think “libertarians” understand libertarianism. Its just a platform for discontent and for intellectual narcissists.

        • Ha, you don’t know many cops in Western states or enlisted military. Tons of libertarians in their ranks – they really dislike the Feds.

          • And firefighters, local government workers, farmers who receive significant crop subsidies, the list goes on and on. The federal government is trying to control every aspect of their lives and you should be prepared to take up arms against it, yet they’re happy to take the federal assistance. Idaho was a weird place to grow up.

        • “I suppose some anarchists may be drawn to the military (think Timothy McVeigh), but I know of no true libertarian who wants to actually work for the man.
          .
          Most libertarians are peaceniks, not blow-up-DC-niks.”

          Have you ever met an actual libertarian?

          • Yeah, I have. Your (and the other anons’) condescension is unnecessary and, quite frankly, ridiculous. Laughing at someone else’s ethos, which you quite clearly fail to comprehend, is stupid. I’m not sure what your problem with libertarianism is, but heaven forbid people lead their own lives as they see fit.
            .
            If you have any basis for believing this guy was a libertarian, please share it.

          • Not sure whether to file you under general discontent or intellectual narcissist…

        • I wouldn’t classify libertarians as anarchists- they believe in limited, local government, as opposed to a lack of government or authority entirely. Of course, with any political party, there are variations of beliefs.

  • It sounds like he’d been on the radar of the FBI and maybe other law enforcement offices for several years. Good thing that in all that time, he was trying to support ISIL only overseas, not to carry out a plot on there behalf against Metro here at home. 🙁

  • What an idiot.

  • I wonder what the FBI’s gonna do with the $245 in mobile messaging gift cards.

  • ISIS management breathes a sigh of relief. They were this close to being infiltrated by the metro!

  • Death Penalty, Please!!!

    • Max 20 year penalty, which I don’t really understand.

    • You think he should be executed? The man is accused of sending $250 to a friend he thought was in Syria fighting for ISIS. Executing someone for that would be barbaric. In fact, it would be ISIS-like. Even 20 years is ridiculous.

      • I’d also be interested in hearing what capital crime Eric thinks this idiot committed.

          • We have to be at war in order to convict someone of treason. The last war the US declared was WWII. Korea, Vietnam, the war against terrorism, the war against poverty, and the war against Christmas were not levied by Congress, and therefore none of the wartime criminal statues apply. Or so I’m told.
            This is probably Espionage Act stuff, which carries a max penalty of 20 years. Again, from memory of a conversation on the topic. I am not a lawyer.

          • Correct! I honestly don’t know if you could be accused of being a traitor by helping North Korea. While we aren’t at war with them, South Korea, our ally is, so maybe NK qualifies as an enemy. I doubt anyone else counts and indeed, the last treason charge was made as a result of actions during WWII.

            However, aid and comfort to non state actors can probably never be considered treason. First we need to recognize them as a state and then we need congress to declare them an enemy. Even then, treason convictions are difficult.

            General criminality and terrorism are easier charges.

            Though, I’d argue the alt-right infowar prepping freakshows teeter on the edge of seditious conspiracy every day of their lives.

        • Probably treason. He was conspiring with the enemy!

          (Eric, calm down. No one died. No one even got $245 in mobile phone credits. If you execute this guy, what do you do for those who actually succeed in death, destruction, mayhem, etc.? Punishments scale for good reason.)

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