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US Air Force Vet Charged With Trying to Join Islamic State

  • VOA News

A U.S. Air Force veteran is being charged with trying to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group.

A Justice Department statement says a grand jury also indicted Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh on obstruction of justice charges.

The statement Tuesday quoted federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch as saying, "Born and raised in the United States, Pugh allegedly turned his back on his country and attempted to travel to Syria in order to join a terrorist organization."

Pugh allegedly tried to join the Islamic State group earlier this year, weeks after being fired from his job as an airplane mechanic in the Middle East. He reportedly served in the Air Force as an avionics instrument system specialist, later working for private companies.

Pugh faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee to become the nation's next attorney general, thanked the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and local police for their help with the case.

"It is this type of collaboration that results in swift investigative work to stop individuals such as this from making any further contribution to terrorist organizations such as ISIL [the Islamic State group]," said New York Police Commissioner William Bratton.

Pugh reportedly traveled from Egypt to Turkey in an effort to cross into Syria, but Turkish authorities sent him back to Egypt. Authorities there deported him to the United States after finding multiple electronic devices on him, including a cell phone that had a photo of a machine gun.

The Justice Department statement says when the U.S. terrorism task force searched his laptop, they found a number of recent Internet searches for Islamic State-related information, as well as downloaded videos, including one showing Islamic State members executing prisoners.

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