The federal prosecution of Nick Young, the only law enforcement officer among more than 100 Americans who have been accused of helping the Islamic State, offers a revealing look at the FBI’s cat-and-mouse efforts to identify possible Islamic extremists, the New York Times reports. President Trump has vowed to intensify the effort as part of a campaign to “annihilate” the militant group. Young’s case poses a challenge to the FBI’s expanding use of undercover operations to identify Islamic State sympathizers inside the U.S. who might travel overseas to help the terrorist group or commit “lone wolf” attacks at home. His lawyer claims the FBI entrapped him, with undercover operatives popping in and out of his life for at least six years.
To law enforcement officials, Young, a former officer for Washington, D.C. Metro transit police, represents one of their worst fears: a longtime officer, with access to sensitive facilities, who they suspect was “radicalized” to support Islamic extremism. He is charged with providing “material support” to the Islamic State, in the form of $245 worth of Google Play gift cards. Authorities say he gave the gift cards to a Muslim friend named Mo — in reality, an undercover informant — to support recruitment for the terrorist group. Young, 37, declined to explain the gift cards, citing a pretrial order that restricts what he can say about documents in the case. He said his explanation would come out at his trial.