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D.C.-area transit police officer faces terrorism charges

A Washington, D.C.-area metro transit police officer has been arrested for trying to support the Islamic State group, the first time a U.S. officer has faced terrorism-related charges, according to federal law enforcement agencies Wednesday.

Undercover law enforcement officials had monitored Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, Virginia, and U.S. citizen who worked for the Washington Metro Area Transit Association since 2003, after his friend was arrested in 2010 for providing material support to al-Shabaab. Since then, Young traveled to Libya twice and he packed body armor, a kevlar helmet and military-style items in his baggage, a signed affidavit from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia said.

In his conversations with a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant, Young explained “how to evade law enforcement detection by utilizing specific travel methods” and told him to “watch out for informants and not discuss his plans with others,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Young said in 2011 he stockpiled weapons at his house, and that if law enforcement ever searched his home, an undercover officer said Young told him that “is what amphetamines, ballistic vests and assault rifles were for,” the affidavit said.

“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 said in a June 2015 email he sent to the FBI informant, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office affidavit. At times, surveillance footage showed Young using computers at a FedEx in Fairfax, Virginia, at the same time these messages were sent.

Then, on July 28, Young tried to send 22 gift cards worth $245 to fund the Islamic State’s mobile recruitment messages.

Two days later, a message sent from Young’s phone to a federal informant said: “Glad it came through. Getting rid of device now…fo real. Gonna eat the Sim card. Have a good day,” the affidavit said.

He was arrested and is scheduled to hear his charges this afternoon at a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia. If convicted, Young could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Young posed no threat to the Metro transit system, said Joshua Stueve, spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Associated Press reported.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Young has been fired, according to the Associated Press.

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