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D.C. Metro Police Officer Arrested for ISIS Association
Who is policing the police when it comes to terrorism?
The arrest in August 2016 of a Washington Metro Transit police officer is the first time a law enforcement officer has been charged with a crime associated with the terrorist group ISIS.
It also underscores the risks faced by transit agencies trying to protect themselves from terrorism.
Nicholas Young, a convert to Islam and Metro transit police officer since 2003, was arrested at his job site on charges of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
He was held in jail without bond after a detention hearing. He faces as much as 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if he is convicted
The criminal complaint against him says he tried to use mobile gift cards to send money to ISIS through a messaging service. Young’s first $245 digital donation was intercepted by an FBI agent last month.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said there was no threat to transit passengers from Young. Nevertheless, the arrest sent a chill through transit agency officials who already know about terrorist attacks like the March 2004 bombing of Madrid commuter trains that killed 191 people, the July 2005 bombing of three London subway trains and a bus that killed 52 and the bombings in March of a Brussels subway station and airport that killed 32 people.
Federal lawmakers are responding to the ongoing threats with new and tougher restrictions on public transportation access. Last month, Congress approved legislation for more thorough background checks of airport employees with secure access.
In Young’s case, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld issued a statement saying he was cooperating with the FBI investigation. Young was fired from his job with the agency the same day he was arrested.
The FBI had been monitoring Young since 2010, about the time his contacts with convicted terrorists Zachary Chesser and Amine El Khalifi were noticed by law enforcement officials.
In 2011, FBI agents questioned Young about a trip he made to Libya. He said he was trying to help rebels overthrow then-dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Customs and Border Protection agents found he was traveling with body armor, a Kevlar helmet, and several other military-style items, according to the criminal complaint against Young.