We've thought about joining the Masons or the Kiwanis Club, but never the so-called Islamic State — for one thing, their annual dues are quite steep. And we're guessing that Asher Abid Khan, 20, of Spring is now kicking himself for trying to join the terrorist group: Khan is charged with "conspiring to provide material support" to ISIL, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Khan, who was taken into custody Tuesday morning without incident, allegedly "devised a plan to travel to Turkey and on to Syria for the purpose of joining and waging jihad on behalf of ISIL," according to a statement from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson's office. "Khan had allegedly asked a Turkish-based foreign terrorist fighter facilitator that 'I wana joing ISIS can you help [sic]?' He also told someone else that 'I wana die as a Shaheed [martyr].'"
Khan devised the plan (if it can even be called that — we've known three-year-olds with more organized itineraries) with a friend who, according to a statement from prosecutors, "allegedly made it to Syria and ISIL with the assistance of Khan and the foreign terrorist fighter facilitator. Khan had been living in Australia with a relative and made it to Istanbul, Turkey, where he was to meet up with his friend in their quest to join ISIL ... However, Khan's family sent him false information regarding his mother's health and he was deceived into returning home to Texas."
According to the criminal complaint, investigators found Khan through his friend's Facebook profile — the friend is identified only as SRG. His page included pics of himself decked out in camouflage, handling an AK-47, which we think is still better than a bathroom-mirror-selfie. The profile also showed communication among SRG, Khan and others.
In one conversation with a Facebook friend identified as User 2, Khan allegedly wrote, "I saw the picture of sharia court established in Falluja. So if i went to Baghdad and went to Falluja from there, could I meet up with ISIS?"
To which User 2 replied, "bro are you really serious abt this?....."
Khan then allegedly wrote, "All I know is that I want to fight fisabillah [for the sake of Allah].. Who knows how long this...will last? What if I miss my chance? I don't want to fight for war booty or for nationalism. I want to just rise the laws of Allah and be a shaheed [martyr] in his cause. I don't want to be fighting with the wrong group, and so far all I see is ISIS fighting for Khilafah [the Muslim state, or the religious leader of that Muslim state].
Later, when Khan allegedly told SRG about hearing from his family, things between the friends grew tense.
While in Malaysia, Khan allegedly wrote SRG, "My parents are trippin bro. I hers my moms in the hospital [sic]." This was followed by a 166-second phone call, then a terse message from SRG: "Dude you can't pull shit like that, I didn't come with all that much case, I have no connections I've got no clue,,wtf."
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SRG later complained of his tablet dying — short battery life is apparently the scourge of much of today's terrorism — and then met with a man who was to be Khan's contact, in a mall food court.
"OK I am wearing whit glasses on top of my black hat, blue sweater white Jordan's and black pant, and a very shirt [sic] under my sweater," SRG wrote. (Sounds to us like SRG should have been arrested as well. By the fashion police.)
About a month later, Khan told SRG, "I'm happy for you and you are always in my prayer. I don't want you getting in trouble so ima wrap this up real quick. Just a few things! Be carful who you kill, don't neglect salah. recite qu'ran and make tones of dua for guidance. And then trust in Allah. Don't curse ppl you don't know stuff about. And just take care, always [sic]."
Khan faces up to 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.