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A National Guard private from California was arrested trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada on Sunday and charged with attempting to travel to Syria to join al Qaeda and fight for “Allah’s Army.”
The criminal complaint against Nicholas Teausant also alleges he discussed a potential strike against the Los Angeles subway system with a confidential source.
Teausant, 20, was arrested without incident on a bus in Blaine, Wash., according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento, Calif. Prosecutors charge that Teausant, a student at San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton, Calif., headed north “with the intent of continuing to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a foreign terrorist organization more widely known as al Qaeda in Iraq.”
Authorities first learned of Teausant 10 months ago when he was a member of the Army National Guard’s 118th Maintenance Company in Stockton, the complaint said. At the time of his arrest, he was in the process of being released from the service, but was still officially classified as “Trainee Unassigned” with the rank of private.
According to authorities, he began posting messages on iPhonegram/Instagram indicating that he wanted to conduct violent jihad and be part of America's downfall. Posting under the name “Assad Teausant bigolsmurf,” he allegedly wrote, "I would love to join Allah's army but I don't even know how to start."
The complaint also alleges that during a December phone call Teausant told a confidential law enforcement source that he had been on a camping trip with seven people over the weekend after Thanksgiving, “who discussed ‘hitting’ Los Angeles on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, specifically targeting the subway.”
Teausant allegedly asked the confidential source how he could acquire a “firework" from Chinatown. When the source inquired what type of fireworks, Teausant allegedly responded, “The big loud one! With the biggest boom and the one that's also compact!! Lol or at least close to it."
Subsequently, officials said, Teausant sent a text stating: "Don't go to LA Anytime soo Akhi Please trust me on this...and if you do go don't use the subway."
Teausant later told the confidential source that those plans had been called off because “they” had been tipped off. He said that he had heard about someone being identified and arrested by the FBI through contact on Facebook. Since he had met his contacts regarding the alleged subway plan on Facebook, "all these red flags are like popping in my head,” he said, so he had terminated contact with those individuals.
The criminal complaint does not identify the other people that Teausant allegedly discussed the purported plot with nor does it detail whether the FBI found or interviewed those individuals.
Teausant has been charged with a single count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.