Friends of Austin terror suspect in shock over allegations

Friends of Austin terror suspect in shock over allegations

Friends of Austin terror suspect in shock over allegations



Posted on June 20, 2014 at 8:36 AM

AUSTIN, Texas -- Federal authorities arrested two terror suspects this week. Now we're learning more about the men they say had plans to engage in jihad overseas. Close friends of Michael Todd Wolfe said it's hard to believe the allegations.

They say Wolfe played music, like to skateboard and is a good dad to his two kids. They also say he became Muslim several years ago, and for all they knew it helped him change his life for the better.

Federal authorities arrested him at a Houston airport this week as he waited to board a flight to Toronto.

"I knew a different Michael," said friend Julian Leonard.

Leonard met Wolfe in middle school, they later became roommates and played in a band together. Leonard saw Wolfe one month ago.

"Everything seemed fine, just normal Michael, you know? Our kids played together, and that's about it," he said.

Wolfe went to Round Rock High School, but he didn't graduate.

Friends said he often studied the Bible and Koran, and several years ago he became Muslim.

"Whatever he did, he put 110 percent into it," he explained. "For all I knew I thought the whole Muslim thing, and the whole religious part, was actually a good thing for him."

Federal documents reveal undercover FBI agents built a relationship with Wolfe and his wife, Jordan Furr. Over the last 10 months, Wolfe secured passports for her and their children and planned a trip to Syria. He watched YouTube videos to learn about allegiances of the groups fighting there. Furr told the undercover officers "he is ready to die for his religion."

"Very shocked and almost unbelievable I guess," Leonard said.

Leonard said Wolfe never talked about these alleged plans, but if he could see him now he has a few questions.

"What was he doing at the airport? What's happening?" he asked. "Why he didn't feel the need to tell any of his real friends about it?"

Another friend of Wolfe's said she spoke to Wolfe's wife, Jordan Furr, on the phone Thursday, a day after Wolfe was arrested. Furr told the friend that she and the kids are OK, and the allegations are not true.

The FBI claims a Round Rock man made similar attempts to recruit terrorists. They arrested him the same day as Wolfe. The FBI won't confirm it, but both face similar charges and were arrested the same day.

It's been difficult getting information on his background, but here's what we know so far.

According to the FBI, Khan didn't know he'd been talking to an undercover agent in online chat rooms, so he discussed, "guns, training, the war against Islam, his preparation for the Third World War, shooting and getting youth interested in the knowledge of jihad."

Khan lived with his parents and an older brother at this home inside a Round Rock golf community. According to the FBI, Kahn is a senior at the University of Texas, majoring in government.

At some point he was a member of the Liberal Arts Council, a student lead group which represents the college at UT. He graduated from McNeil High in Round rock in 2009.

Earlier Thursday, I ran into a family friend leaving the home, who told me Khan's parents are active in the community and do lots of volunteer work.

Like Wolfe's friends, she also told me everyone is completely surprised about the arrest.

An FBI spokesperson said both men have detention hearings scheduled Friday afternoon in front of a federal magistrate.

Khan and Wolfe face up to 15 years in federal prison.

The investigation involved the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Central Texas.