NEW YORK – A US Air Force veteran betrayed his country and tried to become a fighter for the militant group Islamic State, federal prosecutors told a New York jury on Monday at the start of his criminal trial. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh traveled to Turkey in an effort to join Islamic State after he “immersed himself” in the group’s violent propaganda,
watching videos of beheadings and expressing approval on Facebook, Assistant US Attorney Mark Bini said in Brooklyn federal court. But Pugh’s defense lawyer, Eric Creizman, said Pugh’s only crime was to voice support for Islamic State and that there was no evidence he planned to cross into Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria from Turkey. “In this country, you don’t punish a person for his thoughts,” he said.