Metro Officer Charged With Aiding ISIS Remained With Agency Despite Years of FBI Monitoring

An ISIS flag hangs amid electric wires over a street in Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near the port-city of Sidon, southern Lebanon January 19, 2016 / REUTERS
August 26, 2016

The Washington, D.C., Metro Transit Police officer charged earlier this month with attempting to provide material support to ISIS was not earlier terminated from the department despite being under federal monitoring for seven years, Metro officials said Thursday.

Metro authorities alerted the FBI when Nicholas Young began exhibiting "abnormal" behavior, but the 36-year-old remained with the agency’s patrol bureau while the federal monitoring transpired until he was arrested Aug. 3 on terrorism charges, the Washington Post reported. Young was then terminated from the agency.

Young was jailed after sending mobile messaging cards to an undercover federal agent, believing they would be used by ISIS militants to communicate abroad, according to court records.

The incident marked the first time a U.S. law enforcement officer was accused of attempting to aid a terrorist group.

Young told interviewers at the Metro Transit Police Department in 2015 that he dressed up as Jihadi John for Halloween in 2014. The ISIS militant beheaded journalist James Foley in a July 2014 propaganda video. He was killed in November by a U.S. drone strike.

Metro Board members pressed Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik to explain Thursday why Young was permitted to stay with the department despite being under federal watch.

Pavlik said Young never posed a threat to Metro employees or passengers while he was monitored.

"At any point in time if Mr. Young’s behavior escalated to the point where he was going to take action … steps were in place to mitigate those," Pavlik said. "The FBI, in our partnership, had means in place that if he posed an immediate risk to any of our employees or our riders that action would have been taken swiftly."

"Unfortunately, investigations of this magnitude take a long period of time. We have all kinds of rules and laws that we have to adhere to. So it never goes as quick as we like but we’re happy that it ended the way it did," he continued.