Nicholas Young, a 38-year-old former police officer for the Washington, D.C., Metro system, has been convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Department of Justice announced Friday.
Young’s charges include trying to help ISIS. He faced up to 60 years in prison for obstruction of justice and providing support to a foreign terrorist organization after he was involved in a terrorism sting operation.
Young contends that he is not an Islamic State supporter but a misunderstood patriot.
An Alexandria, Virginia, federal court jury was not swayed by Young’s pleas that he was persuaded by law enforcement to lie and offer financial backing to a Islamic State recruit, known as Mohammed, who was actually an FBI informant.
“I’m sorry for letting my friends down, letting my family down. Those people in my life deserved better from me,” Young said in court on Friday.
“There is one thing that the government has not proven and will never prove: that I do not love my country and what it stands for,” Young said in a letter to Judge Leonie Brinkema before sentencing.
“You strike everybody as a very mild-mannered person. You present yourself as a patriot. We can’t look inside a human being. I have to look at the evidence,” the judge replied.
Young reportedly converted to Islam in 2006. The FBI had been watching him for years before he was arrested in 2016.
“We expect police officers to protect and serve. We do not expect them to thwart investigations of terrorist plots, or to advise others how to do so. We do not expect them to try to send money to terrorists, or advise others how to join them,” prosecutors John Gibbs and Gordon Kromberg wrote in court filings.
Young sent $245 in gift cards for the Islamic State and travelled to Libya on two occasions to battle with anti-government rebels.
Violent videos that Young had viewed, along with statements he had made pertaining to killing FBI agents and attacking federal buildings, were offered by prosecutors at Young’s trial.
Copies of emails between Young and the informant, Mohammed, were presented in court, and they showed how Young joked about terrorist attacks and suggested they were “often justifiable.”
Prosecutors provided evidence in court that Young had an interest in Nazism and held an alliance between Islamist and white supremacist terrorism. Prosecutors confirmed that Young had dressed up as a Nazi officer in war re-enactments, bore a tattoo on his arm of an S.S. logo, and had gifted a friend with a neo-Nazi novel for his birthday.
Young also owned many weapons, including explosives and polymer guns that can bypass metal detectors.
“Whether it was meant in jest, whether it was not meant to be real… it’s your words. There is a real danger from someone like yourself,” Judge Brinkema said in court.
Young claims he committed his crime for “personal rather than political reasons.”
Mohammed sent emails “pleading” for the gift cards “so he could call his family members,” Nicholas’ mother, Joy Young, said. However, no such emails were ever presented in court.
Text messages were presented that showed Mohammed indicating that the gift cards would be used by the Islamic State to garner new recruits on an encrypted messaging application.
Young is the first member of law enforcement to ever face terrorism charges in the United States.