SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A six-month undercover FBI operation led to the arrest early Monday of a 20-year-old San Joaquin County, Calif., man who authorities allege talked of launching a civil war that would topple the U.S. government.
Nicholas Michael Teausant, an Acampo, Calif., resident and student at San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton, allegedly spoke of attacking the Los Angeles subway system, of bringing “America to its knees” and traveling to Syria to teach fighters there how to shoot straight.
Teausant, a trainee in the California Army National Guard in the process of being released from his unit, was arrested Monday after being taken off a bus in Blaine, Wash., near the Canadian border.
A federal criminal complaint alleges Teausant was on his way to Syria to join ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a foreign terrorist organization more widely known as Iraq’s al-Qaida.
He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington on Monday afternoon to face a charge of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, according to the complaint.
Teausant’s family members declined to comment Monday when contacted by The Sacramento Bee.
“I don’t have any comment,” a woman who identified herself as “Nick’s biological mom” said in a brief telephone call.
Details in the criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, however, raise questions about Teausant’s ability to wage a war against the federal government.
In Internet postings quoted in the complaint, as well as conversations Teausant had with a confidential FBI source, he indicated that he “wanted to go to Syria to fight, but did not know how to get there.”
He told the FBI source initially that he could not find his passport, and he expressed concerns that people he had met on Facebook while discussing an attack on the Los Angeles rail system might be informants.
He also had difficulty remembering the name of the Syrian group he hoped to join, according to the confidential FBI source quoted in the criminal complaint.
“I like ISIS,” Teausant was quoted as saying, Islamic State of, um, crap … I forget. Islamic State of Al Sham.”
Nevertheless, Teausant, a convert to Islam, continued his plans to travel to Syria, telling the confidential informant earlier this month that he wanted to sell his laptop to raise money for travel funds, the criminal complaint states.
The informant then brought a “friend” into the equation to buy the laptop: an undercover FBI agent, according to the complaint.
Teausant sold the laptop at a March 8 meeting, and indicated “that he had wiped the laptop of information,” the criminal complaint states.
The FBI says he was wrong about that, saying in the complaint that “there is significant information” on the laptop hard drive, including excerpts of “Inspire” magazine, an online magazine issued in English by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that purports to offer bomb-making instructions and other advice to would-be jihadists.
The criminal complaint says that Teausant talked of leaving for Syria over spring break “because he could convince his mother that he would be going snowboarding with a friend at Mount Whistler (in Canada) and she would therefore not be suspicious about why he wanted his passport.”
“He said he was never returning to America, unless it was after President Obama was dead, Congress was gone and there was ‘anarchy and chaos,’” the informant said, according to the complaint.
Teausant eventually purchased an Amtrak ticket and left Lodi, Calif., on Saturday night with FBI agents shadowing him as he switched trains in Sacramento and headed for Seattle, the complaint states.
On Sunday night, with the FBI watching, he got on a bus in Seattle headed for Canada, the complaint states.
Before the bus reached the border, however, Customs agents stopped it and Teausant was arrested.
If convicted of the charge he faces, Teausant could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
©2014 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
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