Two Texas men, including a Bangladesh-born US citizen, have been arrested on charges of supporting terrorism.
Rahatul Ashikim Khan of Round Rock and Michael Todd Wolfe of Austin, both 23, face up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, according to the federal Justice Department and the Central Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Both men were arrested Tuesday and have a hearing scheduled Friday.
Khan is accused of conspiring to recruit people in 2011 to travel overseas to support terrorist activities. Wolfe planned to travel to Syria to help radical groups fighting there, according to the criminal complaints filed against them.
Khan is a full-time 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 holy war, the complaint said. He was born in Bangladesh but became a US citizen in 2002.
A separate complaint accuses Wolfe, a Houston native, of arranging to fly with his family to Turkey so he could enter neighboring Syria and fight there. An arrest affidavit details how undercover FBI investigators developed a relationship with him and his wife, Jordan Nicole Furr, beginning in August.
Wolfe's wife explained that her husband wanted to go to Syria and was "ready to die for his religion," according to the documents. Undercover investigators told Wolfe they could help him with his travel plans.
Wolfe spoke to them using code, referring to the trip as "a musical concert" in Europe.
Wolfe purchased tickets for himself, his wife and their two children to travel Tuesday to Denmark, then Turkey and Syria, the complaint said. Authorities arrested Wolfe at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as he attempted to board his flight.
He also has a criminal history of drug possession, theft and assault charges, online records show.
The charges come six months after two Alabama men, Randy "Rasheed" Wilson and Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, both 26, were sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
Wilson was a Mobile resident and convert to Islam; Abukhdair initially lived in Syracuse, NY, moved to Egypt but was deported and moved to Mobile after becoming friends with Wilson.
DETAILS OF ARRESTEE SOUGHT
Bangladesh on Wednesday sought the current status and other particulars of Rahatul Ashikim Khan from the US government, adds our diplomatic correspondent.
Although the US government is yet to officially inform the Bangladesh embassy anything about Rahatul, the embassy came to know about the matter from media reports, Bangladesh's acting ambassador in US Muhammad A Muhith told The Daily Star.
“We have sought nationality status and other particulars of the arrestee…. We have also informed Dhaka about it and are in touch with the authorities concerned whether there are any instructions or further steps to be taken,” he mentioned.
Asked whether Bangladesh is a party to the issue as Rahatul according to US media is an American citizen, Muhith said there are many Bangladesh-born US citizens who are maintaining dual citizenship.
If the arrestee still holds a dual citizenship, the embassy will seek consular access to interview the arrestee, he added.