WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former Washington transit police officer was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday on charges of attempting to help the Islamic State militant group, prosecutors said.
Nicholas Young, 37, of Fairfax, Virginia, was arrested in August in a Federal Bureau of Investigation sting operation. He was the first U.S. police officer to face such charges involving a group on the government's terrorism list.
Young is suspected of having sent codes for gift cards to an FBI informant posing as someone who was working with Islamic State in July, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Virginia's Eastern District said in a statement.
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The cards were intended for mobile-messaging accounts that the militant group uses to recruit its followers, according to prosecutors.
Young had also been told in an FBI interview that the agency was investigating the informant's attempt to join Islamic State, the statement said.
In order to block prosecution of himself and the informant, Young sent a text message to the informant to make it appear to the FBI that the informant had left the United States to vacation in Turkey, according to the statement.
In reality, Young believed the informant had gone to Turkey and then to Syria to join Islamic State, the statement said.
The federal charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 60 years. Young's attorney, David Smith, of Alexandria, Virginia, could not be reached for comment.
Young had been an officer with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority since 2003. He was fired after his arrest on Aug. 3.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Peter Cooney)