A 20-year-old Central California college student who allegedly wanted to bomb the Los Angeles Metro system was arrested at the Canadian border with plans to join an al-Qaida affiliate, the Department of Justice announced Monday.
Nicholas Michael Teausant, an inactive National Guardsman and Muslim convert, was taken into custody in Blaine, Wash., according to a news release from the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Teausant — who lives in Acampo, a small community between Stockton and Sacramento — was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
He allegedly planned to travel from Canada to Syria to join al-Qaida in Iraq, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, according to court documents.
A student at San Joaquin Delta Community College, Teausant enrolled as a member of the U.S. Army National Guard in April 2012, but he “did not meet the qualifications to continue,” according to an affidavit filed Monday by FBI special agent Justin L. Jacobs.
He was an unassigned trainee with the Guard and had not yet been officially released, Jacobs wrote.
In October 2013, he first began talking to an FBI informant in Stockton who purported to be a Muslim convert like Teausant, according to the affidavit.
Teausant told the informant he wanted to move to Syria to fight, later saying “his goal was maximum fear and a maximum blow to the U.S. government so he could watch it tumble and fall in the wake of a civil war,” the affidavit stated.
Teausant allegedly said he would kill his mother if she got in the way of his plans, and that he wanted to bomb his infant daughter’s day care center because he considered it a “Zionist reform church.”
In a Dec. 5, 2013, phone call with the informant, Teausant said he had discussed “hitting” Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, specifically targeting the city’s subway, the affidavit stated.
He allegedly texted the informant, “Don’t go to LA Anytime soo … Please trust me on this…and if you do go don’t use the subway.”
About a month later, he allegedly told the informant the plan to bomb L.A.’s subway had been “all set up” but was called off because “they” had been “tipped off.”
“While not well known, there is a subway/rail system in Los Angeles,” the affidavit noted, providing a link to the Wikipedia entry on Metro.
Earlier this month, the informant introduced Teausant to an undercover law enforcement officer who was posing as the informant’s mentor, Jacobs stated in the affidavit.
The “mentor” eventually advised him to travel to the Canadian border, and Teausant departed on an Amtrak train Saturday evening. Teausant was taken into custody aboard a train to Vancouver in Blaine, Wash., on Sunday evening.
The FBI, Modesto police and the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Office were among the agencies that investigated Teausant.
Teausant made his initial appearance in federal court in Seattle on Monday afternoon.
He waived an identity hearing and a detention hearing, and was ordered held and transported by the U.S. Marshals Service to Sacramento to face the charge, the Sacramento Bee reported.
If convicted, Teausant faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.