Texas man arrested, accused of helping friend travel overseas to join Islamic State

Texas man accused of helping friend join Islamic State, faces criminal charges

A 20-year-old Texas man was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with helping a friend travel overseas, where he successfully joined Islamic State militants in Syria, according to a criminal complaint. 

After helping with his friend's trip, Asher Abid Khan traveled to Turkey to join the fight himself, but was tricked into returning to the U.S. when his family told him his mother had become seriously ill, according to the complaint.

Khan was arrested Tuesday morning and is expected to appear in federal court later today, according to a news release from the Department of Justice.

The 20-year-old is the latest American citizen to face criminal charges for allegedly attempting to join Islamic State after using social media to contact a militant recruiter. While reports of young men and women attempting to join the terrorist organization have been constant in the past year, the attempts have become an increasing concern after Islamic State claimed responsibility for a shooting at an anti-Islamic event in Garland, Texas,  this month.

Khan was living in Australia early last year when he contacted a man identified only as S.R.G. and began discussing his desire to join Islamic State. Days later, the two began communicating with an unidentified fighter they believed could help them connect with Islamic State fighters in Syria, according to the complaint.

"I wana join ISIS can you help?" Khan wrote to the fighter in a January 2014 Facebook message, court records show.

S.R.G. is repeatedly described as a Mexican convert in the filing, but a spokesman for the Justice Department declined to identify him or give any information not included in the criminal complaint against Khan.

Facebook messages show that S.R.G. was able to travel to Turkey, and then Syria, where he went through a type of "boot camp" and managed to join up with foreign fighters. Khan traveled to Malaysia and then Turkey in February of last year, but flew back to the U.S. after relatives told him his mother was sick.

Khan faces up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted, officials said.

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