Two in Texas charged with aiding terrorists

Two men in Texas have been arrested and charged with providing support to terrorists, including those in Syria, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Wednesday. 

Rahatul Ashikim Khan, 23, and Michael Todd Wolfe, 23, were arrested near Austin, Texas on Tuesday by authorities with the Central Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

Khan was arrested at his home, while Wolfe was about to board a flight to Europe at the George H.W. Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport.

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In a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Khan was charged with providing material support to terrorists. From early 2011 through Jan. 2012, “he conspired with others to recruit persons to travel overseas to support terrorist activities including committing violent jihad,” the Justice Department said.

Wolfe has been charged with the same crime after planning to travel to the Middle East “to provide his services to radical groups engaged in armed conflict in Syria.”

The Justice Department did not specify which terrorist group Wolfe was working with. There are a number of radical groups operating in Syria, but Jabhat al-Nusra, a branch of al Qaeda, is the most prominent.

Khan and Wolfe could face up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 if convicted.

Both remain in federal custody, and have been scheduled to attend a detention hearing on Friday in Austin.

“Protecting the citizens of this community from the threat of harm both from within the United States and abroad is our highest priority, and we will continue to work with our partners to detect, investigate and prosecute those who seek to advance their ideology through acts of terrorism,” Robert Pitman, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said in a statement.

The two young men were caught after an investigation conducted by a slew of local, state and federal agencies including the FBI, IRS, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Army Intelligence and multiple police departments.

News of the arrest comes just a day after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) warned about the rise in people with Western passports going to fight in Iraq and Syria. 

Late last month, the State Department confirmed a U.S. citizen had committed a suicide bombing in Syria.

The latest threat also comes amid the security meltdown in Iraq, where militants from Syria have captured key cities and threaten Baghdad.

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