A US Air Force veteran has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly trying to join the ISIL terrorist group in Syria after watching their online propaganda videos, according to US authorities.
A federal grand jury in New York City indicted Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh on Monday on two charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.
“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,” said US Attorney Loretta Lynch.
“We will continue to vigorously prosecute extremists, whether based here or abroad, to stop them before they are able to threaten the United States and its allies,” she said.
Pugh, 47, who is from New Jersey, had been working in Kuwait for years as an airplane mechanic but was fired from his job in December 2014.
Pugh flew from Egypt to Turkey on January 10 in order to cross the Syrian border and fight alongside ISIL terrorists, but he was intercepted by authorities in Turkey and sent back to Egypt.
After he was deported back to the United States by Egyptian authorities, he was arrested by the FBI and found to be carrying multiple electronic devices, including a mobile and laptop.
FBI agents discovered that he had been viewing ISIL propaganda on his laptop and conducting online searches on how to cross the Turkish-Syrian border to join the terrorists.
A month before Pugh’s alleged attempt to join ISIL, he was fired from his job as an airplane mechanic in Kuwait. He was trained in aircraft engine, navigation and weapons systems maintenance while serving in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990.
If convicted at trial, Pugh faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
Many of the militants described as “moderate” were trained by the CIA two years ago and later joined ISIL, which now controls some parts of Syria and Iraq.