USA: U.S. man charged with conspiracy to provide support to Islamic State

A Houston-area man was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to Islamic State by attempting to fight for the militant group in Syria, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Tuesday.

Asher Abid Khan, 20, of Spring, Texas, was arrested on Tuesday morning and was due to appear in federal court in Houston later in the day.

According to a criminal complaint, Khan and a Texas-based friend, identified only as S.R.G. by prosecutors, plotted on Facebook to join Islamic State in Syria in January 2014 and left for Syria the following month.

At the time, Khan was living in Australia with relatives, where he had been since October 2013.

Both men conspired with a Turkey-based Islamic State supporter to get to Syria, with Khan alleged to have sent a message in which he stated: “I wana join ISIS can you help?”

He also sent another acquaintance a message saying: “I wana die as a Shaheed [martyr],” according to the criminal complaint.

The two U.S. men repeatedly exchanged messages on social media talking about their plans and support for Islamic State.

S.R.G eventually made it to Syria, but Khan returned to the United States from Turkey after being tricked into returning by his family, who told him that his mother had been hospitalized.

If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Khan’s arrest is the latest in an uptick of cases over the past few months in which the United States has detained what has been alleged are would-be U.S.-based Islamic State fighters.

On Friday, two Southern California men were arrested and last month six Somali-American men from Minnesota were charged, all on similar counts.

U.S. prosecutors have increasingly used social media, particularly Facebook messages, in building their cases.

A lawyer for Khan could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)