DALLAS (AP) — Two Central Texas men have been separately accused of trying to plot their entry into conflicts in Syria and Somalia to support terrorists, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that one of the men, Michael Todd Wolfe, was arrested the day before at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as he was leaving for Turkey with his wife and two young children. From Turkey, Wolfe allegedly planned to go to Syria and possibly join an al-Qaida splinter group leading militants in Iraq.
They say the other man, Rahatul Khan, was a University of Texas student who said in an online chat room that he was recruiting fighters for "jihad" — an Arabic term sometimes used to mean a Muslim holy war.
Wolfe and Khan, both of whom are 23, are charged with providing material support to terrorists. They could face 15 years in prison if convicted.
Khan's attorney, Kevin Collins of Austin, said he had just received the case and could not immediately comment. An attorney for Wolfe did not immediately return a phone message. Several attempts to contact family members for both men were unsuccessful.
Federal complaints accuse the men of telling undercover FBI agents or informants about their desire to join Muslim insurgents.
One complaint identifies Khan as a Bangladesh-born American citizen who lives with his family in Round Rock, an Austin suburb. He is accused of trying in 2011 to recruit an FBI informant to join insurgents fighting in Somalia and discussing his own desire to go abroad.
The complaint says Khan "discussed guns, training, the war against Islam, his preparation for the Third World War, shooting and getting the youth interested in the knowledge of jihad."
Authorities say Khan had been in "conflict" with his parents after someone told them he was interested in jihad.
Online records show his mother is a psychiatrist at Carl A. Darnall Hospital at Fort Hood and has been licensed in Texas for four years. His father was listed as president of a charity founded two years ago called "Muslim for Peace and Unity."
Wolfe is accused of telling undercover FBI agents about his desire to fight in Syria, the site of an ongoing insurgency that has expanded into neighboring Iraq.
He told agents he purchased new eyeglasses and shoes to prepare for jihad, and that he intended to bring his wife and children abroad, a separate complaint alleged. Agents monitored Wolfe as he obtained passports and collected the money for travel expenses abroad, the complaint said.
He was arrested at the Houston airport, allegedly on his way to Denmark with plans to travel to the Middle East.
Associated Press researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report.
Contact Nomaan Merchant at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant .