Saturday, 3 June 2017

Air Force Vet Sentenced To 35 Years For Trying To Join ISIS

 49 year-old U.S. Air Force veteran Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was sentenced to 35 years in prison resulting from his 2016 conviction on federal charges of trying to give material support to ISIS and obstruction of justice.

In a statement on Wednesday, Acting United States Attorney Bridget Rohde told the press the sentence was a powerful message to those who support terrorism. "The defendant turned his back on his country, and the military he once served, to attempt to join a brutally violent terrorist organization committed to the slaughter of innocent people throughout the world," said Rohde.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis gave Pugh the maximum sentence, telling him, "This isn't about whether you're a Muslim or a Christian or Jewish. This is about whether you're going to stand up for your country," adding that, "The work of the Islamic State is to destroy our way of life."
The defendant reportedly wept in court proclaiming, "I am innocent."
Pugh, who was born in New York and grew up in Monmouth County, was arrested on January 16, 2015, in Asbury Park, New Jersey weeks after being fired as an aircraft mechanic in Kuwait under suspicion of attempting to "fight violent Jihad" in Syria. 
According to NJ.com:
Pugh had been carrying multiple electronic devices with him upon his return, including four USB thumb drives stripped of their plastic casings and an iPod wiped clean of data. However, a search of his water-damaged laptop computer revealed internet searches for "borders controlled by Islamic state." There were also a number of videos downloaded from the internet, including one showing ISIS members executing prisoners.
A letter to his wife in Egypt was also recovered from the laptop. He wrote: "I am a Mujahid. I am a sword against the oppressor and a shield for the oppressed. I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic State."
 NJ.com notes that Pugh "served in the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 1990 as an avionics instrument system specialist and received training in the installation and maintenance of aircraft engine, navigation, and weapons systems. In an FBI affidavit, Pugh was said to have moved to San Antonio, Tx., after leaving the Air Force and converted to Islam in 1995, where he 'became increasingly radical in his beliefs.'"

One of his coworkers told the FBI that in 2001 Pugh "sympathized with Osama bin Laden, felt that the 1998 bombings of US embassies overseas was justified and expressed anti-American sentiment."

This conviction marked the first case to reach a jury involving a person attempting to join ISIS or ISIL.

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