Nicholas Young, 36, was arrested Tuesday on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. His most recent alleged transgression was purchasing $245 in phone gift cards to help ISIS recruiters, FBI investigators said.
Young will have an initial appearance this afternoon in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan at U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
Metro Transit Police initiated the investigation and continues to work collaboratively with the FBI Washington Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force on the case, authorities said in a news release.
Young has been terminated from Metro, a Metro spokesman said.
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, authorities said.
According to the affidavit, 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.
The affidavit also said that 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 the source on how to evade law enforcement detection by utilizing specific travel methods and advised him to watch out for informants and not discuss his plans with others.
Two weeks ago, Young communicated with whom he believed to be the CHS regarding purchasing of gift cards for mobile messaging accounts ISIS uses in recruiting. On July 28, Young sent 22 16-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.