ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Prosecutors brought the first-ever federal terrorism charges against a law enforcement officer in the U.S., alleging Wednesday that a patrol officer with the D.C. region’s transit police bought about $250 worth of gift cards for someone he thought was working with the Islamic State group.
Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, was arrested Wednesday at Metro Transit Police headquarters in Washington and charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group. According to an FBI affidavit, Young bought the gift cards last month that he intended for the Islamic State to use to purchase mobile messaging apps. Young actually gave the codes for the gift cards to an undercover FBI officer, the affidavit said.
He made a brief court appearance Wednesday afternoon, wearing a T-shirt and what appeared to be his uniform slacks.
David Smith, who was appointed to represent Young after the hearing, said he could not comment because he had not yet been able to research the details of the case.
If convicted, Young could face up to 20 years in prison.
Young had been under surveillance since 2010, and he traveled to Libya at least once in 2011, where he said he joined rebel forces seeking to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the affidavit said. He traveled with body armor, a Kevlar helmet and other military-style items.
Young was deeply paranoid about law enforcement spying on him, often taking out the battery of his cellphone when he wanted to go somewhere and talk, the document said. Young frequently told one undercover source to be wary of potential informants, according to the affidavit.
On Jan. 24, 2011, an undercover officer said Young told the officer he once aimed an AK-47-style rifle out of a window at his residence, scanning for law enforcement he believed was watching him.
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