American Air Force vet convicted of assisting ISIS

An American Air Force veteran who tried to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS) group was on Wednesday found guilty of trying to provide the jihadist group with material support, AFP reported.

The man, 48-year-old Tairod Pugh, was the first person in America convicted after a jury trial of attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIS, Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Carlin said.

Pugh, who was arrested in January 2015 in New Jersey, could get up to 35 years in prison, according to AFP.

No sentencing date was announced but it is expected to be later this year.

Prosecutors said Pugh tried to join the Islamic State group by traveling from Egypt to Turkey in early 2015 with the intent of entering Syria.

But Turkish authorities denied him entry and sent him back to Egypt, from where he was deported to the United States.

U.S. authorities then monitored Pugh and when he was finally arrested he was found to be in possession of a computer with 180 jihadist videos and information on borders between Turkey and Syria.

Pugh, who converted to Islam in 1998, served in the Air Force as an avionics instrument system specialist and received training in the installation and maintenance of aircraft engines, navigation and weapons systems, the Justice Department said in a statement.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence obtained from Pugh's laptop and social media posts. The computer showed he had searched the Internet for "borders controlled by Islamic State" and downloaded terror-related videos.

The government also introduced a letter that Pugh wrote shortly before leaving Egypt for Turkey en route to Syria.

It said, "I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic State. There is only 2 possible outcomes for me. Victory or Martyr."

The case is the latest example of radicalization in the United States. Previous examples include the case of a 23-year-old recently arrested by the FBI for planning a shooting attack in Milwaukee. The man, Samy Mohamed Hamzeh, was found to have originally planned to attack Israelis.

The phenomenon was perhaps best recently illustrated in the December shooting attack in San Bernardino, California, where the attackers are believed to had been radicalized for quite some time.


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