Nicholas Young, 38, a former police officer for the D.C. Metro system was found guilty Monday of trying to help the Islamic State, making him the first law enforcement officer nationwide to be convicted in a terrorism case
A jury in suburban Washington has convicted the first police officer charged in the United States with attempting to support the Islamic State.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says 38-year-old Nicholas Young of Fairfax was convicted Monday in federal court after a weeklong trial in Virginia.
‘Nicholas Young swore an oath to protect and defend, and instead violated the public’s trust by attempting to support ISIS,’ U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said in a statement.
Young was a police officer for the transit system in the U.S. capital region and was under scrutiny by the FBI for six of the thirteen years he patrolled the public transportation system of the nation’s capital. He was arrested last year after being targeted in a sting operation.
Prosecutors said Young bought gift cards he thought would be used by the Islamic State.
Young believed the informant he was messaging was an acquaintance who was working with the militant group, but the person he gave the cards to was actually working undercover for the FBI.
Young met an FBI source on 20 separate occasions in 2014.
The source posed 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.
Law enforcement had 38-year-old Nicholas Young under surveillance for at least six years before charges were filed against him because of both ‘suspicious’ activities that were flagged by Metro Transit officials as well as his close association with another man swept up in a terrorism investigation
Young bought nearly $250 in gift cards he intended to give to ISIS to use to purchase mobile apps that would facilitate communication..
Young, a 12-year veteran of the transit police force, was found guilty of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. He now faces up to 60 years in jail when he is sentenced in February.
His lawyers tried to defend him saying the sting operation amounted to entrapment.
The two-week trial also included evidence that Young trafficked in Nazi memorabilia.
Young dressed up as an SS officer in World War II reenactments and had a tattoo on his arm celebrating his unit. He also collected literature advocating violent jihad and watched Islamic State videos.
The trial revealed Young had been under federal surveillance since 2010.
Police searched the home of Metro Transit police officer Nicholas Young, 38, of Fairfax, Virginia in August 2016
Officials said Young, a 12-year veteran of the transit police force, did not pose any threat to the Metro system (above, file photo)
He had traveled to Libya twice in 2011, where he said he joined rebel forces seeking to oust dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Baggage searches revealed that Young traveled with body armor, a kevlar helmet, and several other military-style items.
But officials say Young did not pose any threat to the Metro system in the US capital.
In a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, police first interviewed an acquaintance of his, Zachary Chesser, in 2010.
A month later, Chesser pleaded guilty to providing material support to terrorists.
Over the next several years, Young had a number of interactions with undercover officers and a co-operating witness regarding his knowledge or interest of terrorist-related activity, the statement said. Many of those conversations were recorded.
In one conversation with an undercover officer in March 2011, Young said that he hated the FBI and was skilled enough to attack the agency.
During recorded conversations Young also revealed that he had dressed up as a Nazi before and collected Nazi memorabilia. He showed officers a tattoo of a German eagle on his neck
A law enforcement officer walks on the street outside the home of Nicholas Young in 2016
He also described a way to bring multiple guns inside Alexandria’s federal courthouse undetected in order to distribute them to others.
During the conversations, Young advised the source on how to evade detection by law enforcement by using specific travel methods and advised the man to watch out for informants and not discuss his plans with others.
In the fall of 2014, the source led Young to believe that he had successfully left the United States and had joined ISIS – but in reality, he had no further contact with the source.
All further communications between Young and the source’s email account were actually between Young and FBI undercover personnel posing as him.
In January 2015, Young ‘proudly’ referenced the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks in an email, the affidavit says.
‘Not sure if you got the news there yet,’ he said in a message days after the massacre in Paris.
‘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 June 2015, Young emailed his FBI source asking for advice from ISIS commanders on how to send his money overseas.
‘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, so I imagine banking transactions are automatically monitored and will flag depending on what is going on,’ Young wrote.
In an interview with the police who responded to a report of domestic violence on June 1, Young revealed he had dressed up as ‘Jihadi John’ – the ISIS fighter who beheaded numerous people in propaganda videos – for Halloween in 2014.
Nicholas Young, a Washington, D.C.-area transit police officer, was convicted after an FBI sting with attempting to support the Islamic State, authorities said. above, officers outside Young’s home in Fairfax, Virginia in August 2016
Young was arrested at Metro’s headquarters in Washington in 2016 at at the time was charged with a single count of attempting to provided material support to a terrorist group in 2016
Young was convicted with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, ISIS (file photo)
As part of his costume, Young said that he had stuffed an orange jumpsuit with paper to portray a headless hostage, which he carried with him throughout the party.
In that interview, Young also revealed that he had dressed up as a Nazi before and collected Nazi memorabilia. He also showed officers a tattoo of a German eagle on his neck.
In December last 2015, the FBI interviewed Young, ostensibly in connection to an investigation into the whereabouts of the source.
Young told agents that he had left the United States to go on a vacation tour in Turkey around one year ago, but said that he knew of no one who helped the man cross the Turkish border into Syria.
Young had been under surveillance since 2010 after the transit police sparked a probe into him
In an interview with the police, Young revealed he had dressed up as the ISIS fighter known as ‘Jihadi John’ (pictured) for Halloween in 2014
Then in July 2016, Young sent a message intended for the source regarding purchasing of gift cards for mobile messaging accounts which the terror group uses for recruitment purposes.
Young sent 22 16-digit Google Play gift cards gift card codes to the undercover FBI agents with a message that said: ‘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.’
Young sent the gift card codes after the informant told him that the group needed help setting up mobile messaging accounts, according to the affidavit, and then promised to cover his tracks: ‘Gonna eat the SIM card. Have a good day.’
The codes were ultimately redeemed by the FBI for $245.
The investigation into Young was initiated by the transit police after fellow officers became suspicious about their colleagues behavior.
Young was aware that he was being watched. When he spoke with the FBI informant he would often take the battery out of his phone.
He would write through an email account he accessed at a nearby FedEx store, and he sent the gift card codes through a new phone and new account.
‘I don’t trust anyone; I’m suspicious of everyone,’ he said in one recorded conversation. Later, he added, ‘In some office, I know our pictures are up on some wall.’