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Tairod Pugh, U.S. Air Force veteran, charged with aiding Islamic State

By Andrew V. Pestano

WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- Tairod Pugh, a U.S. Air Force veteran, has been indicted on charges of allegedly attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Yesterday, a federal grand jury in Brooklyn returned a two-count indictment charging Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, an American citizen and veteran of the United States Air Force, with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State... and obstruction and attempted obstruction of justice," a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice said.

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He will be arraigned on Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney General nominee and current New York Eastern District Attorney Loretta Lynch announced the charges, along with other officials including New York City Police Department Commissioner William Bratton.

Pugh allegedly traveled from Egypt to Turkey in an effort to cross the border into Syria. Turkish authorities deported Pugh back to Egypt where he was found carrying electronic devices that were stripped of their plastic casings, an iPod that was wiped clean of data and a cell phone that contained a picture of a machine gun.

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He was ultimately deported back to the United States and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force obtained a search warrant for his electronic devices.

The task force found Internet searches for "borders controlled by Islamic state" and for the Flames of War Islamic state propaganda video.

Downloaded videos of executions by IS members and a chart illustrating of crossing points between Syria and Turkey controlled by IS were also found.

"As alleged, Pugh, an American citizen, was willing to travel overseas and fight jihad alongside terrorists seeking to do us harm," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said. "United States citizens who offer support to terrorist organizations pose a grave threat to our national security and will face serious consequences for their actions. We will continue to work with our partners, both here and abroad, to prevent acts of terrorism."

Pugh was an avionics instrument system specialist in the U.S. Air Force and received training in the installation and maintenance of aircraft engines, navigation, and weapons systems. He worked for different companies in the U.S. and Middle East after leaving the Air Force and lived abroad for more than a year prior to his arrest.

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