Texas man pleads guilty to attempting to join ISIS

A Texas man pleaded guilty Friday to attempting to aid Sunni militant group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), federal prosecutors said.

Michael Wolfe, 23, said he planned to travel to the Middle East to provide material support to ISIS. He was arrested last week at the George H.W. Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport.

“Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Mark Lane, Wolfe admitted that from August 2013 to June 17, 2014, he planned to travel to the Middle East to provide his services to a foreign terrorist organization, namely, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham/Syria (ISIS) and to engage in violent jihad in Syria,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas said in a statement.

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During the plea hearing, prosecutors said Wolfe admitted to applying for and acquiring a U.S. passport, participating in physical fitness training, practicing military maneuvers and concealing his communications about his plans to engage in “violent jihad.” It's unclear where Wolfe is from originally. 

Wolfe purchased airline tickets to travel to Europe to meet an undercover FBI employee whom he thought would help him travel to Syria through Turkey, prosecutors said. He was arrested on June 17 as he tried to board a flight to Toronto.

“His ticketed itinerary had him traveling through Iceland and arriving in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 18, 2014. He then planned to make his way to Syria to join with ISIS and engage in the armed conflict,” officials said.

Wolfe remains in federal custody and will be sentenced in a U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas. No sentencing date has been scheduled yet.

Federal officials also arrested and charged another man, Rahatul Ashikim Khan, 23, near Austin the same day as Wolfe. He was charged with providing material support to terrorists. It’s unclear whether Khan and Wolfe knew each other and collaborated. 

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

A number of lawmakers have recently warned about the threat of Westerners going to fight alongside these extremist groups in Iraq and Syria.

In May, the State Department confirmed a U.S. citizen committed a suicide bombing in Syria.