An US Air Force veteran was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday after he was convicted of terrorism charges for trying to join the Islamic State group. According to the judge who pronounced the sentence this was a “very sad thing” that a former soldier wanted to turn against his country.
Tairod Pugh, 49, from Neptune, New Jersey was the first one to receive a verdict from more than 70 cases of Americans accused by the government for trying to support the extremist group. Pugh was convicted in March 2016. He was stopped at a Turkish airport in January 2015 with a laptop with information on Turkey-Syria border crossing points, 180 jihadist propaganda videos, including footage of an Islamic State prisoner beheading, and a letter declaring: “I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States.” There was also a paragraph for his wife reading : “There is only two possible outcomes for me: Victory or martyr.”
Authorities forced Pugh to return back and he was arrested upon his arrival in New York. He is and US Air Force veteran who served from 1986 to 1990 and learned how to install and maintain aircraft engines and navigation and weapons systems.
“This isn’t about whether you’re a Muslim or a Christian or Jewish,” U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis told Pugh. “This is about whether you’re going to stand up for your country.”