Air Force Veteran Convicted of Terrorism Sentenced to 35 Years

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By Debbie Gregory.

Tairod Pugh, a U.S Air Force veteran found guilty of terrorism for trying to join ISIS two years ago, has been sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The 49-year-old Pugh, a convert to Islam, was convicted of trying to join the Islamic State (ISIS) and die a martyr.

Acting United States Attorney Bridget Rohde said, “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.,”

Several days before his arrest on January 16, 2015, Pugh had flown from Egypt to Turkey, after spending about a year working in the Middle East. Turkey is a common entry point for would-be jihadists entering Syria.

The FBI had been closely monitoring Pugh, and Turkish authorities detained him as soon as he landed in Istanbul. He was immediately deported and sent to JFK International Airport in New York, where he was arrested.

At Pugh’s trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing that his laptop contained ISIS propaganda and execution videos. The prosecution also demonstrated that Pugh had voiced his support for ISIS to coworkers and on Facebook, encouraging his followers to “support [ISIS] with your bodies.”

Additional evidence included the draft of a letter from Pugh to his wife which read:

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. There is only 2 possible outcomes for me [sic]. Victory or Martyr.

Pugh served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990 and was trained in installing and maintaining aircraft engines and navigation and weapons systems.

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