Ex-Metro Transit officer makes 2nd appearance in court

WASHINGTON — A former Metro Transit police officer charged with trying to assist the Islamic State group made his second appearance in a federal courtroom in as many days on Thursday.

This time Nicholas Young, 36, was dressed in a green jumpsuit labeled “prisoner” in white lettering on the back. He was accompanied by his new defense attorney, who declined to speak to the press after the hearing that lasted just a few minutes at the U.S. District Courthouse in Alexandria.

Young waived his right to a preliminary hearing and a bond hearing was set for next Thursday.

Young, who faces one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group, did not speak.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Young was arrested on Wednesday at Metro headquarters in D.C. The 13-year veteran police officer is accused of trying to send gift cards to someone he believed was an Islamic State militant. The cards, worth $245, were intended to help the group set up mobile messaging accounts to communicate with potential recruits in western countries.

Court records detail years’ worth of recorded conversations with undercover officers and an informant, who was later switched out for an FBI agent. The agent posed as a U.S. reservist of Middle Eastern descent who had joined ISIS and communicated with Young via email and a mobile message app. Young had offered advice to help the informant make it to Syria to join the militants.

In addition to recorded conversations and conversations with an undercover officer, FBI agents interviewed Young at least four times since 2010. During one of those interviews, he told the investigators that he had traveled to Libya twice in 2011 to fight with rebels trying to overthrow Moammar Ghadafi. Customs and Border Protection found him traveling with body armor and a Kevlar helmet during a trip in May of that year.

He once bragged about the small arsenal of guns he was amassing and made comments about how he would use those weapons should police ever search his home. And after his arrest on Wednesday, investigators did search his town house in Fairfax.

The documents also detail Young’s paranoia that he was under surveillance. He believed that his email, phone calls and evening banking transactions were being monitored.

Metro Transit Police have been credited with launching the investigation and first alerted the FBI to Young in 2009. The FBI interviewed Young in relationship to two other men who are now serving federal prison sentences for terrorism-related charges.

According to the documents, Young once received a traffic ticket for a moving violation in Falls Church while he was supposed to be on duty for Metro Transit Police.

WTOP national security correspondent J.J. Green reported from Alexandria, Virginia. Amanda Iacone also contributed to this report. 

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