NEW YORK, NY – Prison orange may be the new Air Force blue for a former US serviceman.
Federal authorities say 47-year-old Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, a former Air Force mechanic, flew from Egypt to Turkey and was on his way to join ISIS in Syria when Turkish officials stopped him at the airport.
They say he was carrying four USB drives, an iPOD, and a cell phone.
The federal indictment says his laptop contained 180 jihadist videos, some showing the execution of ISIS prisoners.
Investigators also found evidence of repeated internet searches for information on borders controlled by Islamic State, and a chart of crossing points between Turkey and Syria.
Court documents say Pugh served in the air force from 1986 to 1990 where he received training in weapons systems and training in the installation and maintenance of aircraft engines.
He also worked for American Airlines and private aviation companies in the US and Middle East.
The FBI says agents found a letter Pugh wrote to his Egyptian wife in which he told her, “I will use my talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic State.”
Federal agents started watching Pugh ten years ago when a co-worker at American Airlines told them Pugh sympathized with Osama bin Laden.
That was about the time investigators say he converted to Islam and became more radical.
Pugh told a federal court in New York that he is not guilty of the terrorism charges, which is an opportunity ISIS doesn’t give to its prisoners.