WASHINGTON, DC: A young man of Bangladeshi origin has been arrested in Austin, Texas under allegations that he has been consorting with foreign terrorist networks to help plan attacks on US soil.
Rahatul Ashikim Khan (23), along with alleged co-conspirator Michael Todd Wolfe (23), was formally charged with conspiring to commit terrorist acts by a US District Court on Wednesday.
Khan, who is originally from Chittagong, Bangladesh, is currently a student at the University of Texas, was nabbed as part of an elaborate sting operation set up by the FBI, during which a multitude of evidence was apparently uncovered that linked Khan to several terrorist groups around the world.
Khan, under the guise of several different aliases, would use online chat rooms to speak with and recruit potential new “jihadis.” The people he recruited would be enlisted for specific tasks or for a skill set that they possessed, such as their willingness to kill in the name of Islam or their hatred for a certain ethnic group, like Jews or Hindus.
What Khan didn’t know is that one of the people he was talking to was a covert FBI informant, who would keep logs of the conversations between himself and Khan and then pass them onto the proper authorities. It was through this informant that the FBI was able to mount an investigation into Khan, which ultimately ended in his arrest.
This investigation took place over the course of several years, during which Khan was in regular correspondence with the covert FBI operative and a slew of other young potential jihadis. The Daily News reports that Khan often spoke about wanting to kill scores of other people, and that he wanted to participate in a jihad himself.
Khan has been linked to terror groups in Africa and Syria, whose members he is accused of having spoken with online in the name of jihad and other terroristic intents. One of the groups Khan allegedly was in touch with is al-Shabab, the terror cell that has been responsible for the recent violence that has afflicted Kenya.
He is also said to have spent a lot of time in chat rooms dedicated to followers of Brixton imam Sheikh Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Faisal, a former US resident and religious leader who was jailed for several years and later deported back to Jamaica for preaching violence against Jews, Christians, and Hindus.
Khan was finally arrested after the police were able to catch Wolfe, who also frequented Internet chat rooms under the alias “Faruq.” Wolfe was picked up by police as he tried to board a Toronto-bound flight from Houston’s George Bush International Airport, along with his wife. Reports indicate that Wolfe, who was also unknowingly in touch with an FBI operative, said that he wanted to join ISIS – the militant group currently laying siege to Iraq, and closing in on the capital city of Baghdad.
Both men now face up to 15 years behind bars if they are found guilty. A trial date has not yet been revealed.