A 20-year-old California community college student accused of wanting to fight for Al Qaeda in Syria had not only failed basic aptitude tests at the Army National Guard, but was pending full discharge at the time of his arrest, officials said Tuesday.
Nicholas Teausant, a single father to an infant daughter who lived in a mobile home park near Lodi, was arrested Sunday night near the Canadian border after he allegedly told a paid FBI informant his plans.
Charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, Teausant faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.
The California National Guard issued a statement Tuesday, saying that while Teausant enlisted in 2012, he had failed to meet basic education requirements, and so never attended basic training. He also never trained or served as a soldier in the California National Guard, Capt. Will Martin said in the statement.
"In fact, he was pending discharge at the time of his arrest," he said, adding that the California National Guard was fully cooperating with investigators.
Federal authorities outlined in an affidavit extensive exchanges between the informant and Teausant, in which Teausant allegedly detailed his desire to travel to the Middle East to join Islamic extremists and harm the United States.
The informant befriended Teausant last fall, posing as a fellow convert to Islam.
In December, he sent a text message to the informant asking how he could obtain fireworks, according to the affidavit. "The big loud one! With the biggest boom and the one that's also compact!!" Teausant allegedly wrote in the message.
He then allegedly texted: "Don't go to LA Anytime soo[n] … Please trust me on this … and if you do go don't use the subway." Teausant told the source over the phone that he and a group of people had discussed "hitting" the L.A.-area subway on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, authorities alleged. (The Sacramento-based FBI agent who wrote the affidavit pointed out in a footnote: "While not well known, there is a subway/rail system in Los Angeles.")
Teausant later said the plot had been called off because authorities had been tipped off, according to the affidavit.
On Facebook, he allegedly met "brothers" with whom he discussed a plot to blow up the Los Angeles County subway system.
A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman declined to discuss whether the agency had been alerted to the threat or measures were taken in response.