Central Texas man pleads guilty to attempting to support terrorists in Somalia

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A Central Texas man pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of attempting to recruit and support terrorists to fight a holy war overseas.

Rahatul Khan, a 23-year-old University of Texas student, entered his plea in federal court and faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced, federal prosecutors said.

Khan, who prosecutors said is a Bangladesh-born American citizen, was arrested in June on charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Investigators said Khan was recruiting fighters to go to Somalia for "jihad" — an Arabic term sometimes used to mean a Muslim holy war.

Khan told undercover FBI agents or informants about a desire to join Muslim insurgents, and discussed guns, training and preparing for a Third World War, prosecutors said.

Khan's guilty plea "should serve as a sobering reminder that we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to detect and root out terrorism, even in our own backyard," U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said.

Khan lived with his family in the Austin suburb of Round Rock. Authorities had said Khan was in conflict with his parents after someone told them he was interested in jihad. Sentencing was not immediately set.

Khan's guilty plea came a week after another Central Texas man, Michael Wolfe, who prosecutors called Khan's co-conspirator, also pleaded guilty to terror charges in a separate case.

Authorities said Wolfe sought to join an al-Qaida splinter group leading militants in Iraq. He was arrested in June at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston as he was leaving for Turkey with his wife and two young children.

A spokeswoman for Khan attorney Kevin Collins confirmed the guilty plea but offered no further comment.