US Air Force veteran charged with Islamic State support faces trial
Mar 08, 2016 11:30 PM EST
A US Air Force veteran charged with attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group is set to become the first individual in the US to face trial for attempting to support the infamous militant group.
In January 2015, Tairod Pugh spent months downloading violent Islamic State clips before boarding a one-way flight from his home, Egypt, to Turkey, says Reuters. Federal prosecutors said in Pugh's trial in New York that his intention was to cross to Syria and join the fighting force of the Islamic State.
Assistant US Attorney Tiana Demas added that Pugh knew his skills as an airplane mechanic would be useful to ISIS. Eric Creizman, Pugh's defense lawyer, told jurors that his client shared a 'repugnant' views about Islamic State and did not make him guilty of a crime.
Pugh, 48, is one of the 80 people charged in federal cases in connection with Islamic State since 2013 amid an effort pressed by authorities to identify potential domestic supporters of the militant group. AOL reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it has probed in all 50 states of the nation involving suspected followers of ISIS.
According to The Nation, Pugh was detained by Turkish authorities last year in January after returning from a year spent living in Egypt. Investigators from the US claimed that his laptop included a letter to his wife in Egypt vowing to wage jihad and declaring he had only two options, either 'victory or martyr'.
Attorney Creizman addressed the letter briefly, saying there was no evidence it had ever been sent. The lawyer argued that Pugh's statement regarding martyrdom was merely a 'fantasy'.
Prosecutors said that his laptop also contained about 180 militant videos, which include one that showed ISIS militants executing its captives. From 1986 to 1990, Pugh worked as an avionics specialist in the Airforce and later served as an Army contractor in Iraq from 2009 to 2010.