A National Guard private from Acampo, California was arrested in Blaine while trying to cross the U.S. border into Canada on Sunday night, and was charged with attempting to travel to Syria to provide material support and aid to al-Qaida and fight for “Allah’s Army.”
According to the complaint filed by federal prosecutors, Nicholas Michael Teausant, 20, traveled to the Canadian border with the intent of continuing to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an off-shoot of al-Qaida. The FBI’s paid confidential informant alleges that Teausant said he chose to travel by bus because bus stations “aren’t monitored… and nobody asks questions on there.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stopped the bus in Blaine at 11:40 p.m. on March 16.
Authorities first learned of Teausant 10 months ago when he was a member of the Army National Guard’s 118th Maintenance Company in Stockton, California, 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. Military records indicate that he had not undergone basic training, as he did not meet the academic qualifications.
Teausant was currently a student at San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton, California, according to the FBI statement.
According to the FBI agent working on the case, Toussant, posing under the name “Assad Teausant bigolsmurf” began posting messages on Instagram and Ask.fm indicating that he wanted to conduct violent jihad and be part of America’s downfall. He wrote, “I would love to join Allah’s army but I don’t even know how to start.”
The complaint also alleges that he sought to obtain a “lone Mujahid pocket book,” which is a guide on how to become a lone-wolf terrorist and covers topics such as torching vehicles and making bombs.
The FBI agent also said that during a December phone call, Teausant told a paid confidential informant 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.”
On December 5, 2013, Teausant texted the confidential source asking how he could acquire a “firework from China Town.” When the source inquired what type of fireworks Teusant was seeking, Teusant responded “… The big loud one! With the biggest boom and the one that’s also compact!! Lol or at least close to it.” A later text from Teausant stated: “Don’t go to LA anytime soo [sic] Akhi. Please trust me on this … and if you do go don’t use the subway.”
Teusant later told the informant that his plans were called off because of “red flags” that “they” had been tipped off, referring to the FBI. He said 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, who had last tried to connect with him via email.
The criminal complaint does not identify the other people that Teausant was allegedly plotting with and does not indicate whether or not the FBI has found or interviewed those individuals.
Teausant indicated to the confidential source that he had sent financial support to al-
Qaida. In the charging documents, Teausant allegedly told the source, “My resolve is pretty clean cut,” and indicated that he would do whatever it took to get to Syria to fight, saying that he had already fought his own internal jihad and wanted to participate in external jihad against the enemies of Islam.
Teausant allegedly said he would even kill his own mother and stepfather if they tried to stop him or interfere. He made plans to travel to Canada under the guise of going snowboarding at Whistler, saying it would not make his mother suspicious about why he wanted his passport. Teausant observed that if his mother were to “jeopardize something that I had going, I would do what I needed to do,” continuing, “If I needed to, I would kill her. I love her, but she’s still a kufar [infidel or nonbeliever].”
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. He made his initial appearance in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington on March 17 at 2 p.m. before Judge Mary Alice Theiler and agreed to be returned to Sacramento to face the charge.