Accused terrorist remembered as troubled teen on Mercer Island
An accused terrorist who attended school on Mercer Island was a deeply troubled teen, who struggled socially, according to people who knew him.
According to the FBI, 20-year-old Nicholas Michael Teausant bragged online and to a confidential informant about plans to join Al-Qaeda, bomb L.A.’s subway system, and support fighters in Syria.
"He was a loner,” said Greg Asimakopoulos, former pastor of Mercer Island’s Evergreen Covenant Church, where Teausant joined a Christian youth group in 2010. “He was one that tried as best he knew how to fit in,” said Asimakopoulos. “But looking back, I would say he acted irrationally, and his behavior was such that he needed to be the center of attention."
Teausant, who attended Mercer Island High School for his sophomore year from 2009-2010, was arrested late Sunday night while attempting to cross the border into Canada at Blaine, Washington.
According to a federal criminal complaint, Teausant planned to join Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Teausant, a soon-to-be-released member of the National Guard in California, bragged on social media and to an FBI informant about his "desire to conduct violent jihad and to be a part of America's downfall.”
FBI agents were watching as Teausant boarded an Amtrak train on Saturday night in Lodi, Calif. Agents were also watching as Teausant switched trains in Sacramento bound for Seattle, then as he boarded a bus bound for the Canadian border. Before that bus could cross at Blaine, Teausant was taken into custody by agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
On March 14, Teausant was interviewed on the campus of the community college he attended in Stockton, California by a Sacramento television station. Teausant was asked about a student who wore an army uniform on campus, even though he was not a soldier.
Teausant told the reporter he was offended. "Until you've gone in through basic training, until you've had a drill sergeant yelling at you doing pushups, until you've put blood sweat tears, missed your family, missed your girlfriend, missed whatever, until you've done that, you have no business wearing that uniform,” Teausant said.
National Guard records indicate Teausant joined last year, but didn’t have enough academic credits to attend basic training. Records indicate the Guard was planning to release Teausant soon.
KIRO-7 found Teausant expressing strong opinions on several social media platforms, discussing his conversion to Islam—and asking how to “bring America to its knees.”
Teausant can be seen on social blogs, talking about what Islam considered sinful. “The Quran says that suicide is surely a sin, and that you would go to hell for committing suicide,” said Teausant, speaking into a camera.
The FBI secretly tracked Teausant for months, according to court documents.
On Monday, his mother in California tearfully told a Sacramento TV reporter her son is misunderstood.
“He made bad choices, but he's not a terrorist,” the woman said, asking that her name not be used. “He's not evil, he doesn't do mean things at home."