Former D.C. Police Officer Found Guilty of Trying to Help ISIS

Image of Nicholas Young seized during a search of his home last year and filed in Alexandria federal court. Young is the only U.S. police officer to ever face terrorism charges — a case brought after he was under FBI surveillance during six of the 13 years he patrolled the D.C. Metro system. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia)

A former police officer for the D.C. Metro system was found guilty Monday of trying to help the Islamic State, making him the first law enforcement officer nationwide to be convicted in a terrorism case.

Nicholas Young, a 38-year-old Muslim convert from Alexandria, Va., faces up to 60 years in prison. After only a few hours of deliberation, a jury in federal court in Alexandria found he obstructed justice and offered financial support to a friend he thought had joined the terrorist organization.

In fact, the man was an undercover informant who befriended Young as part of an FBI sting operation.

“Nicholas Young swore an oath to protect and defend, and instead violated the public’s trust by attempting to support ISIS,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said in a statement.

Young was under scrutiny by the FBI for six of the 13 years he patrolled the public transportation system of the nation’s capital. He used his vacation time to join the civil war in Libya in 2011, leaving the FBI wondering whether he fought with a terrorist group, and watched Islamic State videos while on break. He was commended by one U.S. attorney’s office for his work as a police officer, only to be put under grand jury investigation by another.

He is probably the first person convicted of backing the Islamic State to consider himself a conservative, venerate former congressman Ron Paul, and express interest in joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

But the paradox at the heart of the trial was Young’s interest in both Islamic radicalism and Nazism. Young dressed up as an SS officer in World War II reenactments and had a tattoo on his arm celebrating his unit. He also collected literature advocating violent jihad and watched Islamic State videos.

Prosecutors posited that virulent anti-Semitism connected the two seemingly incompatible forms of extremism. A former roommate testified that Young, during a school project that took them to a meeting of white supremacists, told him, “‘Don’t discount the Muslims’ ability to fight against the Jews.’ ” On Young’s computer was evidence that he had researched historical links between Nazis and Muslims. A law enforcement officer who met him while working undercover said Young and his friends often insulted Jewish people.

Young did not testify, but his attorneys argued Nazism was emphasized to obscure the coercive nature of the investigation.

In interviews this year, Young and his sister said that prosecutors had twisted comments made in jest and isolated the most incendiary artifacts from a huge historical collection.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner