Two men in Texas have been charged with providing support to terrorists, with one of them allegedly planning to travel to Syria to aid radical groups engaged in armed conflict there, U.S. Justice Department officials said Wednesday.
Rahatul Ashikim Khan and Michael Todd Wolfe, both 23, were arrested near Austin, Texas on Tuesday by authorities from the Central Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force and charged with providing “material support” to terrorists.
“He’s ready to die for someone, for something,” Wolfe’s wife allegedly told an undercover FBI agent in 2013, according to a federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court.
Khan, a native of Bangladesh living in Round Rock, Tex., “conspired with others to recruit people to travel overseas to support terrorist activities, including committing violent jihad,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement.
Wolfe, charged in a separate complaint, “planned to travel to the Middle East to provide his services to radical groups engaged in armed conflict in Syria,” the statement said.
Khan was arrested at his home and Wolfe was about to board a flight to Europe at the George H.W. Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport, authorities said.
Khan became a U.S. citizen in 2002 and is a full-time student at the University of Texas in Austin, according to court records.
The complaint alleges that he began communicating with an informant in an online chat room which he was purportedly using “as a platform to spot and assess potential recruits for committing violent jihad overseas” in 2011.
That June, Khan told the informant that his brain “starts bleeding” when he sees weak “bengalis” who have “no love for jihad” and “no love to shed blood,” according to court documents.
The complaint against Wolfe alleges that his wife met an undercover FBI agent in August 2013 and told the agent that she and her husband wanted to “perform a violent form of jihad.” She told the agent that Wolfe “just wants to hop into Syria. He’s just ready to die for his deen [religion]. He’s ready to die for someone, for something.”
Another undercover FBI agent met with Wolfe, discussing his plans to go overseas, the court documents detailed.
In January of that year, Wolfe “indicated that he had learned that al Qaeda in Syria was training brothers from other countries (foreign fighters) and then sending those fighters back from Syria to their home countries to conduct terror attacks,” according to the court documents.
Soon after, one of the FBI agents watched a YouTube video about foreign fighters in Syria with Wolfe and his wife.
Khan and Wolfe face up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine if convicted.
“This case is the culmination of a long-term investigation by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Central Texas,” U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said in a statement. “Protecting the citizens of this community from the threat of harm both from within the United States and abroad is our highest priority.”
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