15:15 GMT04 December 2020
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    For the first time ever, a US police officer has been charged with terrorism, with his trial date set for December. Nicholas Young stands accused of funding an FBI informer he believed to be a member Daesh with mobile messaging cards - but the real point of contention is whether Young is a neo-Nazi, a jihadi, or both, or neither.

    Young, a 36-year-old Alexandria native who converted to Islam in 2006, has served as a DC Metro police officer for 13 years and has been under FBI surveillance since 2010. The FBI has repeatedly tried to turn him into an undercover informant after Young took two trips to Libya to fight against the government of Muammar Gaddafi during the 2011 Libyan Civil War.

    After rebuffing a variety of informants, Young told the Washington Post, he became acquainted with a 20-something Syrian named Mohammad.

    "They very cleverly created this character of a sympathetic figure," Young said of Mohammad. "When he was talking about going overseas, the reason was to fight [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad…. It was totally humanitarian…. 'He's killing women and children, he's killing civilians, people are being buried alive.' And at no time did he show himself to be particularly religious."

    Although Young would not directly comment on the allegations, he stands accused of sending Mohammad (who he believed to be a member of Daesh) $245 in mobile messaging cards as well as lying about it to the FBI.

    While there's little doubt that Young sent the money, his attorneys argue that he was motivated by sympathy for Mohammad's "sob story," not support for Daesh or a desire to fund terrorism. The defense claims that Young referred to Daesh as a "gang of criminals" and there is no evidence of his support of terrorism outside of his contribution to his Syrian friend.

    The neo-nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (Nordiska motstandsrorelsens) sympathisers demonstrate in central Stockholm  (File)

    "At no time did I ever praise the attacks," Young told The Post, "nor ever encourage any attacks against civilians." However, the prosecution asserts that Young told Mohammad he was disgusted with mosques that preach "jihad of the pen," and called terrorist attacks "understandable" in response to aggressive Western foreign policy.

    Much of the case will hinge on whether or not Young showed any support for terrorism before he became a subject of FBI surveillance in 2010. As a result, Young's bizarre history as a political animal has come under intense scrutiny. In addition to his participation in the Libyan revolution, he stands accused of trying to marry his Islamic radical beliefs to his white supremacist beliefs.

    "It's a unique case; it's a unique defendant," Assistant US Attorney Gordon Kromberg said in court last month. "The defendant was an adherent of both [ideologies]…. The common enemy is hatred of the Jews."

    Defense attorneys challenged these allegations, calling them smears that lack in common sense. "White supremacism and militant Islam are mutually inconsistent."

    A staple of the prosecution's case is that Young attended a fascist rally in 2000, after which he allegedly told a prosecution witness: "Don't discount the idea of an alliance with the Muslims to combat the Jews." Young claims claims to have attended the rally as part of a college course he took on white nationalism — in which he earned an A-.

    On the one hand, Young owns a Nazi military uniform that he uses in World War II reenactments, has a large tattoo of an SS unit's logo on his arm and collects Nazi paraphernalia including knives and pins. He is also a vocal critic of Israel, using the Jewish State's flag as a doormat and adorning his car with a early 20th century far-right group's symbol as well as a bumper sticker reading "Boycott the terrorist state of Israel."

    On the other hand, Young's collection also includes British, Japanese, Russian, and Scottish military paraphernalia. He also has dated women of a variety of races and religions. His behaviour is perplexing on a number of fronts: he's a cop who has never used his gun, baton or pepper spray in 13 years of service, but who has bragged about his weapons collection and joked about torturing FBI agents. He traveled to Libya to fight, but denies ever firing a weapon there.

    "They're really grasping at straws here, trying to take everything I said out of context and take it in the most sinister light," Young said. His participation in World War II reenactments were "just good fun" and "dead politics," with no deeper meaning to them. He attributes his opposition to Israel to the libertarian politics of Ron Paul.

    "I can't wait to go to trial," Young said during his interview. "Frankly, my case isn't like any other terrorism-related case that anyone's ever brought forward."


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    Islamic extremism, Neo-Nazi, Washington Post, Nicholas Young, Syria, Libya, Washington, DC
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