The US Department of Justice said in a statement that Officer Nicholas Young, 36, of Fairfax, Virginia, was arrested at the Metro police headquarters, thus becoming the first US law enforcement officer to be accused of trying to help the jihadist group.
However, Young never posed a credible threat to the Washington Metro, the country’s second most heavily travelled subway system after the one in New York, according to what Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, told NBC News.
The officer appeared briefly in court on Wednesday to be arraigned, EFE news reported.
According to the accusation filed against him, Young had worked as a Metro Transit Police officer since 2003 and had been under surveillance by the FBI since 2010 due to several interactions with an informer and undercover agents.
In 2011, Young met a number of times with an undercover agent and some acquaintances, including Amine El Khalifi, who later pleaded guilty to planning a suicide bombing at the US Congress in 2012.
Also in 2011, Young travelled twice to Libya, where he met with rebels trying to topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. On one trip, he travelled with body armour, a Kevlar helmet and other military-style items, the accusation said.
In an e-mail Young sent in 2015 to the informant, whom he thought had contacts with the IS, he asked how he could send money to IS leaders.
In July, Young bought 22 telephone gift cards for $245 to be used to send messages from accounts that the IS allegedly used to recruit terrorists, EFE news reported.
He sent the cards’ code numbers to an undercover FBI agent, according to the accusation.
If found guilty of the charges against him, Young could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.