An American 19-year-old is facing up to 30 years in prison after traveling to Turkey on his way to Syria to join ISIS, only to change his mind and return home to Houston. Asher Abid Khan didn’t leave the airport after landing in Istanbul, and called his concerned family to inform them that he wanted to come home. A year later, the FBI has charged him with “conspiracy and attempting to provide material support,” and he could face a 30-year prison sentence. Officials became aware of his trip after he corresponded with another teen they say he recruited to join ISIS.
His attorney told The Washington Post that pursuing the charges would be a mistake, and would tell other misguided young recruits that they will be punished if they have a change of heart. His lawyer told the paper, “He came home and did the right thing. If the government was smart, they would exploit that. My kid could go to the mosques and talk about redemption.” However, intelligence officials told The Post that there were concerns that he still maintained a radical ideology and told friends he had an open mind about ISIS. Leaders in the local Islamic community also believed he has “some ideological beliefs or sympathies towards certain groups that are unhealthy.”