In the first of more than 75 Islamic State-related prosecutions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice to actually reach a verdict, a U.S. Air Force veteran was found guilty of attempting to join ISIS.

The verdict came after a weeklong trial in federal court where Tairod Nathan Pugh, 48, was also convicted of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.

Pugh, a 1998 convert to Islam, wore traditional Muslim clothing during the trial, and showed no emotion when the verdict was read. His sentencing hearing has been set for September when he faces up to 35 years in prison.

Mr. Pugh was trained as an airplane mechanic when he served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990, and also worked in Iraq as an Army contractor in 2009.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Pugh had become enamored of ISIS, watching the terror group’s propaganda films on youtube, and engaging in heated discussions on Facebook and with co-workers supporting its radical ideology.

A letter Pugh wrote to his wife promised to take her to paradise and pledged to “use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic State,” was also entered into evidence, although it was unknown whether the letter had been sent, which provided defense attorneys an opening to argue that Pugh was merely fantasizing about running away to join the terror group.

Additional evidence from his computer showed Pugh had researched border crossings between Turkey and Syria, the usual point of entry for foreign recruits traveling to join ISIS.

Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI field office in New York released a statement following the verdict saying, “Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was willing to become a martyr, using his U.S. military training as a weapon for ISIL. Instead, found guilty of his crimes, he is facing a lengthy incarceration.  We are pleased the jury found his actions confirmed his expressed desire to cause violence and destruction on behalf of this terrorist organization.”


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