A United States Air Force veteran is facing federal charges for trying to help Islamist militants.
Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, tried to provide material support to the radicals, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing federal grand jury indictment.
Pugh’s lawyer said the New Jersey native will plead not guilty.
Prosecutors said Pugh, a former avionics instrument system specialist in the US Air Force, tried to join the jihadists in January by traveling from Egypt to Turkey and trying to cross the border into Syria.
Turkish authorities sent him back to Egypt, which detained him and subsequently deported him to the US, they said.
When he arrival in Egypt, Pugh was carrying several electronic devices including a mobile phone that had a photograph of a machine gun, authorities said.
US federal agents searched his laptop computer and other devices and found recent internet searches for “borders controlled by Islamic State” and a propaganda video by the group.
Although Pugh was arrested in January, the case had been sealed until Tuesday.
Prosecutors said that in the weeks prior to traveling to Egypt, Pugh had been fired from his job as an airplane mechanic for an unidentified company in the Middle East and had lived abroad for a year.
Pugh appeared to have been on US authorities’ radar for some time.
A criminal complaint filed at the time of his arrest said that while he was working as a mechanic for American Airlines, a co-worker tipped the FBI that Pugh “sympathized with Osama bin Laden, felt that the 1998 bombings of US embassies were justified and expressed anti-American sentiment.”
In 2002, an associate told the FBI that Pugh expressed interest in going to Chechnya to fight, the complaint said.
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