A former police officer for the D.C. Metro system tried to help the Islamic State and obstructed justice, a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court decided Monday.
Nicholas Young, a 37-year-old Muslim convert from Alexandria, Virginia, is the first law enforcement officer ever to face terrorism charges. He was caught last year in an FBI sting operation after helping a man he thought had joined the Islamic State.
The man was actually an undercover informant.
Over a four-day trial last week, prosecutors argued that Young was compelled by anti-Semitism to support both the Islamic State and neo-Nazism.
Young did not testify, but his attorneys argued that a law-abiding, patriotic police officer had been coerced by FBI agents into committing a crime merely because he had some odd hobbies and a distasteful sense of humor.
The jury deliberated for only a few hours before finding Young guilty of both attempted material support for terrorism and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors revealed in court that, in the years before his arrest, Young twice had come under scrutiny by undercover law enforcement operatives who were investigating his friends from George Mason University.
The first undercover officer, using the pseudonym Khalil Sullivan, was eventually told to stop talking to Young and focus on another target.
The second, an informant identified in court only as “Mo” or Mohamed, cultivated a relationship with Young over several months in 2014. He then pretended to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.
After he believed Mo had gone to Syria, Young tried to hide his awareness of his friend’s whereabouts and lied to the FBI about their relationship. He then, at Mo’s request, bought and sent Google Play gift card codes he believed would be used by Islamic State fighters to download encrypted messaging applications.
Attorneys for Young declined to comment after the verdict. He could face up to 60 years in prison.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Rachel Weiner