A Texas resident was sentenced to prison Friday for providing material support to terrorists abroad. As another Texan awaits sentencing in a similar case, questions have been raised about the limits of US jurisdiction.
Image of Michael Todd Wolfe obtained through public records at the Williamson County Sheriff's Office
Michael Todd Wolfe, from Austin, Texas was sentenced to almost seven years in prison for attempting to travel to Syria to join the self-styled "Islamic State" (IS) militia.
The US Justice Department said that District Judge Sam Sparks gave the 24-year-old an 82-month prison term. Wolfe, who used the alias Faruq, admitted that he had acquired a US passport to travel to Europe, and had participated in physical fitness and paramilitary training.
Wolfe entered a guilty plea last June shortly after his arrest. He had been charged with the rare federal offense of providing material support to terrorists and was eventually caught as part of an FBI sting operation.
Wolfe had planned to travel to Europe where he was scheduled to meet a contact, who he believed would help him travel through Turkey and then into Syria, where he was intending to fight for the "Islamic State." He was arrested at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as he was about to board the first leg of his journey. The contact turned out to be an FBI undercover agent.
But Wolfe's lawyer, Horatio Aldredge, signaled his intention to appeal the conviction, saying that his client "never planned or intended to harm any American either in the US or overseas."
A US Justice Department statement defended the conviction, saying that Wolfe had "made efforts to conceal his communications about his plans to travel overseas to engage in violent jihad."
According to Williamson County jail records, Wolfe had previously been arrested on 11 occasions linked to other charges - none of which related to terrorism.
Another local man was also arrested on the same day as Wolfe. 23-year-old Rahatul Ashikim Kahn also pleaded guilty on similar charges, though it is unclear whether the two cases are connected.
A spokesman for the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas said that a sentencing date for Kahn has not yet been scheduled. According to the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, Khan's case is connected to an indictment from a federal court in Miami.
ss/bk (dpa, Reuters)