Dec. 5 (UPI) — A Texas man pleaded guilty to providing material support to the Islamic State, even after he decided not to join the terrorist group because he thought his mother became ill.
Asher Abid Khan, 23, of Spring, Texas, near Houston, faces up to 15 years in prison for providing material support to a terrorist organization. The FBI’s investigation into Khan began in 2014, when the then-20-year-old and a friend named in the criminal complaint as SRG devised a plan to join the Islamic State in Syria. Khan, who was living in Australia with relatives during the time of planning, then arranged for himself to travel to Turkey, where he planned to meet with Mohamed Zuhbi, a Turkish-based foreign terrorist fighter facilitator.
SRG then arrived in Turkey, where Khan “gave his South Texas friend money, knowing he intended to travel to Syria and join and fight with [Islamic State].”
But during this time, Khan’s family was in touch with him and urged him to come home and made up a story about his mother being seriously ill to trick him into coming home.
Khan then texted SRG to tell him that his parents were “trippin” and SRG responded: “Dude, you can’t pull [expletive] like that, I didn’t come with that much cash, I have no connections I’ve got no clue, wtf.”
But instead of going to Syria, Khan got on a plane back to Houston.
Khan and SRG continued to communicate via social media over the next few months, even after SRG allegedly began training with the Islamic State. But SRG stopped communicating with Khan in September 2014 and on Dec. 25, SRG’s mother received an email informing her that her son died while fighting for the Islamic State.
The Department of Justice said Zuhbi is still at large and there are pending criminal charges against him in the Southern District of Texas.
According to a 2015 story from the Washington Post, friends and family of Khan said his demeanor had changed and he was less strict about following the tenets of Islam.
In one of his last messages with SRG, Khan told his friend to “make sure they are doing everything according to Islam you know, not killing innocent ppl and all that.”
But as Khan was reportedly a different person for the better after his trip to Turkey, SRG’s family was looking for him and contacted the FBI for help. The FBI then found the communications between Khan and SRG, which led to Khan’s arrest on May 25, 2015.