Two Texas men who authorities say were plotting to support extremists in Syria were arrested Wednesday, and one of them was at the airport in Houston ready to leave the country, authorities said.
Twenty-three-year-old Michael Todd Wolfe was arrested at the George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport, federal officials said. Wolfe’s accomplice, was arrested at his home.
Here’s what you need to know about Wolfe:
1. The Feds Say He Wanted to Fight With Syrian Insurgents
According to Federal investigators, Wolfe was flying to Canada in order to get to Syria by way of Turkey with his wife and two children to, “engage in violent jihad.”
In a press release, U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman described the arrests by saying:
This case is the culmination of a long-term investigation by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Central Texas. It’s a textbook example of how well law enforcement agencies in this area work together. 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.
2. He’d Been Planning the Trip Since August 2013
Investigators say Wolfe had secured his wife and children passports in order to travel. Wolfe had planned for his wife and children to say they were going to a music concert in Europe in order to leave the country.
Read the criminal complaint charging Wolfe above.
3. Wolfe Went by ‘Faruq’
A news release from the Department of Justice explains Wolfe went by the name “Faruq” while Khan went by “Rahat Khan” as well as other screennames online. Wolfe’s criminal complaint is separate from Khan’s.
4. Wolfe and Khan Could Face 15 Years in Prison
Wolfe and Khan, both of whom are in federal custody, could face 15 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine if convicted. The Department of Justice said Khan conspired with other people from early 2011 until January 2012 in order to convince people to go overseas and commit acts of violent Jihad.
5. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s Government Has Responded to Protests With Violence
When Syrians began holding pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, the government responded with violence, sparking a bloody conflict that has gone on for more than three years.
In May 2011, the government run by President Bashar Al-Assad, sent tanks to major Syrian cities in order to stop pro-democracy protests. From there, government and rebel forces began fighting across the country and people began to flee Syria into neighboring countries. Since the war began, the Syrian government has been condemned by the U.N. after reports surfaced of chemical weapons being used in the fighting.