Police nabbed him just as he was boarding a plane to travel from Texas to Europe, but Michael Todd Wolfe's final destination was Syria, where he planned to join violent jihad in the ranks of ISIS, prosecutors said.
On Friday, Wolfe, also known as "Faruq," pleaded guilty to "attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization," said U.S. attorney Robert Pitman.
The 23-year-old from Austin faces up to 15 years behind bars for his plans to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terror organization so violent it has been shunned by al Qaeda.
Wolfe acquired a passport so he could travel abroad. He had trained for the battle with the help of military and physical fitness exercises and was looking for a contact to help him slip into Syria, the prosecutor's office said.
That contact turned out to be an FBI official.
On Feb. 2, an undercover agent met with Wolfe and his wife and they watched a YouTube video about foreign fighters in Syria, officials said. Wolfe allegedly discussed ISIS' activities.
"While watching the video, Wolfe occasionally stopped the video to explain the current allegiances of the various groups fighting in Syria. They include ISIS, al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, the Free Syria Army, and Dawla," a complaint said.
A second suspect
A second Texas man, Rahatul Ashikim Khan, 23, of Round Rock, was arrested earlier this month in a separate case at his home and charged with "conspiring to provide material support to terrorists."
A complaint said Khan "conspired with others to recruit persons to travel overseas to support terrorist activities including committing violent jihad" during a period from early 2011 to January 2012.
"This case is the culmination of a long-term investigation by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force made up of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in Central Texas. It's a textbook example of how well law enforcement agencies in this area work together," Pitman said in a statement.
His office covers the western district of the state, including Austin and San Antonio.
The men are in federal custody and a detention hearing is set for Friday before a U.S. magistrate in Austin. They face up to 15 years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine if convicted.