A New York court convicted Tairod Pugh today. Pugh was arrested and standing trial for trying to join ISIS. There have been many incidents of people convicted while trying to join ISIS from Australia, England, France and even New Zealand. However, Pugh is the first United States national to be convicted for an ISIS related offence.
Pugh, who is a 48 year old Muslim convert used to work as a mechanic in Egypt. After losing his job, he decided to join ISIS. He went to Turkey in 2014 and attempted to travel to Syria, a country largely held by ISIS.
Turkish officials became suspicious and denied him a plan to enter Syria. He was arrested in Turkey and extradited to US, now he faces up to 35 years in prison.
It seemed like an open and shut case right from the start. When Turkish officials arrested him, they found a black face mask (a signature of ISIS), different maps, bordering crossing map from Turkey to Syria, a document that showed what are the ISIS held territories in Syria.
Back home, when US investigators searched Pugh’s computer, they found exactly what they were looking for. It was full of violent ISIS propaganda videos and sermons. There was an email to his wife in Egypt in which he had told her how he wishes to become a martyr. Geographical searches he made corresponded if you were looking for different entry points in Syria.
Pugh served as an aircraft engineer in the US Air Force. He had a permanent job with them from 1986 to 1990. Then he started working as a military contractor for US in Iraq from 2009 to 2010. Apart from working as a mechanic in Egypt, he also worked as a civil aviation engineer in Kuwait.
Although Pugh is the first person to be prosecuted in an ISIS-related offence, other US nationals have been charged for the same. Abdul Malik Kareem from Phoenix was charged in 2015.
Tairod Pugh will be sentenced in September this year.