A Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area Transit Authority police officer was arrested and charged with “attempting to provide material support” to the Islamic State group, the AP reports. At no time was the D.C. Metro, the capital’s subway system, under threat, according to the FBI. The suspect did, however, buy ISIS a bunch of gift cards for ISIS.
The transit cop is the first law enforcement officer to be brought in on terrorism-related charges:
On July 28, 2016, [Nicholas] Young sent 22 sixteen digit gift card codes to the FBI undercover with a message that stated: “Respond to verify receipt . . . may not answer depending on when as this device will be destroyed after all are sent to prevent the data being possibly seen on this end in the case of something unfortunate.” The codes were ultimately redeemed by the FBI for $245.
Young had been under surveillance since 2010, and he went to Libya twice in 2011 to offer his services to rebels trying to oust then-dictator Moammar Gadhafi, according to the AP.
The FBI’s own release is pretty damning:
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Young told FBI agents that he traveled to Libya twice in 2011 and he had been with rebels attempting to overthrow the Muammar Qaddafi regime. Baggage searches revealed that Young traveled with body armor, a kevlar helmet, and several other military-style items.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, in 2014, Young met on about 20 separate occasions with an FBI confidential human source (CHS) posing as a U.S. military reservist of Middle Eastern descent who was becoming more religious and eager to leave the U.S. military as a result of having had to fight against Muslims during his deployment to Iraq. During these conversations Young advised CHS on how to evade law enforcement detection by utilizing specific travel methods and advised CHS to watch out for informants and not discuss his plans with others.
The FBI then intercepted all communications between Young and the person only identified as “Confidential Human Source,” and undercover agents pretended to be the source. At one point, Young actually started complaining about how he was being monitored, but for some reason pressed on anyway:
In June 2015, Young emailed CHS asking for advice from CHS’s commanders on how to send his money overseas. Young said, “[u]nfortunately I have enough flags on my name that I can’t even buy a plane ticket without little alerts ending up in someone’s hands, so I imagine banking transactions are automatically monitored and will flag depending on what is going on.”
The D.C. Metro is the second-busiest subway system in the United States, after the New York City subway. More than 200 million trips were undertaken by passengers in 2015.