US Air Force veteran headed to trial for supporting ISIS

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh

A former USAF avionics specialist charged with trying to join ISIS is set to go on trial in New York City today, one of the first of more than 75 ISIS-related cases involving US Citizens to go to trial.

According to Reuters, 48 year old Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was detained in January of last year by Turkish authorities in Istanbul  after he returned from a year in Egypt.

U.S. investigators say they found an email to Pugh’s Egyptian wife on his computer declaring his intention to “defend the Islamic States” and saying he had only two options: “Victory or Martyr.”

In addition to the emails, investigators also discovered approximately 180 jihadist videos on his laptop.

Pugh is charged with attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group and with obstruction of a federal investigation. Opening statements are scheduled to begin on Monday morning in Brooklyn federal court.

Pugh seems to be the second individual going on trial in an ISIS-related case.

Earlier this month, Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem -accused of plotting to attack a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest in Texas- went on trial in Phoenix, Arizona. Two of his associates were killed in a shootout with law enforcement at the event.

Pugh served as an avionics specialist in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990. In 1998, he moved to San Antonio, where he converted to Islam and became a radicalized.

A former mechanic for American Airlines, Pugh was brought to the attention of the FBI after a co-worker informed them that Pugh had expressed support for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Despite this, Pugh later worked as an Army contractor in Iraq from 2009 to 2010.

U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis agreed to seal the courtroom during the testimony of an undercover FBI employee, a measure taken to protect the identity of the individual. Garaufis said that an audio feed of the testimony will be broadcast for the public in a separate courtroom.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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