Air Force Veteran Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh Charged With Planning To Join ISIS

Shiite Muslim fighters, loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, take part in a last combat training near the city of Najaf on August 23, 2014, before joining the government forces to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists in the Jurf al-Sakhr area, south of Baghdad. Iraqi officials worked to calm soaring tensions after the killing of 70 people at a Sunni mosque, as Washington branded the beheading of an American journalist a 'terrorist attack.' AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR HAMDANI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images

A former member of the U.S. armed forces was indicted Monday with trying to support one of America's foremost extremist foes, and it's just as concerning as it sounds. Announced by federal prosecutors on Tuesday. 47-year-old Air Force veteran Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was charged with plotting to travel to Syria and join ISIS. Pugh, a resident of New Jersey, served in the Air Force as an avionics specialist from 1986 to 1990, and worked several private sector avionics jobs since. 

According to U.S. authorities, materials were found on Pugh's laptop demonstrating a desire to sneak into Syria and join the fight, with internet searches for ISIS-controlled parts of the Turkish-Syrian border he could slip across, as well as proclamations that he'd "establish and defend the Islamic States." In January, he reportedly attempted to pull off the plan, but was caught at the border by Turkish authorities who turned him back. Pugh is expected to plead not guilty to the charges on Wednesday — he faces two counts, obstruction of justice and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group, amounting to a possible prison sentence of 35 years. It's a hefty punishment, to be sure, over similarly hefty allegations.

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Speaking on the Pugh news in her role as U.S. Attorney (she's also the long-stalled nominee to replace Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General), Loretta Lynch promised to "vigorously prosecute extremists," as detailed by USA Today.

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. 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.

Of course, as with any pending legal proceeding, it's important to remember that charges and allegations are one thing, and findings of fact are another. If he indeed pleads not guilty, Pugh will have to face a trial to determine his fate.

Image: Getty Images

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