California student pleads guilty to terrorism charge
A former community college student, who allegedly discussed attacking the subway in Los Angeles, has pleaded guilty to a federal terrorism charge for trying to enter Canada so that he could eventually travel to the Mideast to help wage holy war, prosecutors said.
Nicholas Teausant, 22, of Acampo, Calif., was charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, according to Benjamin B. Wagner, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento.
“This case, like others in communities across the United States and around the world, is an example of how a young person from any place and any background might make the terrible decision to try and become part of a terrorist organization,” Wagner said in a statement.
“Fortunately, the FBI intervened in this case before any harm could be inflicted upon innocent persons,” the statement read.
Teausant faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced March 8.
Teausant was arrested March 17, 2014 in Blaine, Wash., where he tried to cross into Canada, according to a 23-page affidavit. Federal officials said Teausant planned to join the terrorist group known as Islamic State.
But federal investigators were onto Teausant before he could make any significant moves. He had been befriended by a paid FBI informant who posed as a radical Islamist.
Teausant, a student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, had been looking for ways to support and provide materials to terrorist organizations, the affidavit states.
He made his interests known on social media, even posting comments under an alias on Instagram, authorities said.
“Don’t get me wrong I despise america and want its downfall but yeah haha,” Teausant wrote. “I been part of the army for two years now and I would love to join Allah’s army but I don’t even know how to start.”
Teausant had enlisted with the U.S. National Guard, but failed to maintain the academic qualifications necessary to attend basic training, according to authorities.
According to the affidavit, Teausant told a confidential source that he and friends talked about “hitting” the subway in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. But authorities said the plot was canceled due to security concerns and fears that the FBI had identified and arrested someone.
Later, during a meeting with the source and an undercover law enforcement officer, Teausant insisted he wanted to fight and that he wanted to join the “brothers” abroad.
Los Angeles Times staff writers Michael Muskal and Richard Winton contributed to this report.
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