Isn’t it time to stop allowing Muslims into the U.S. military? Another convert to Islam and self-proclaimed jihadist, former Air Force specialist and airline mechanic from New Jersey, Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, tried to join ISIS in January.
NY Post Pugh served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990 and was trained in aircraft maintenance and weapons systems, court papers state. He converted to Islam in 1998 and worked for several different airlines as a mechanic, papers state.
Pugh, of Neptune, traveled from Egypt to Turkey “in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIL and fight violent jihad,” officials said after unsealing his indictment, using the other popular acronym for ISIS.
In a letter to his wife, and on Facebook posts, “I am a Mujahid,” Pugh said in a Jan. 5 letter to his wife, Misha. A mujahid is one who struggles for the sake of Allah and Islam. “I am sword against the oppressor and a shield for the oppressed,” he continued. “There are only two possible outcomes for me: Victory or Martyr.
According to the indictment, he told Misha a number of times that he had planned to travel to Palestine and “join jihad.” His Facebook pages express a number of anti-Israeli sentiments. In his letter to Misha, he wrote of them having a home in “Al-sham” — which is what Syria was once known as — or, if he became a “martyr,” they would be given much more.
Skeptical Turkish officials stopped him from entering Syria at the border and deported him back to Egypt. Authorities there shipped him to New Jersey, where he was arrested on Jan. 16, court papers state.
Prosecutors said that a probe of Pugh’s laptop revealed extensive Web searches related to ISIS, and that he also was carrying USB drives, a wiped iPod and a photo of a machine gun on a cell phone. Backpacks belonging to Pugh also contained a solar-powered flashlight, a pair of compasses and camping gear.
APP The letter, included with the indictment, was revealed in a full scan of Pugh’s laptop, which was confiscated when Pugh arrived in New York from Cairo on Jan. 15. Along with the letter, according to the officials, were nearly 200 ISIS propaganda videos that show prisoners being captured and executed one by one, along with a chart featuring border crossing points between Turkey and Syria.
According to the indictment, Pugh has attracted government attention for more than a decade. He served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990, working as an avionics instrument system specialist. After leaving New Jersey — his ties to the area are dated to 1993 — Pugh moved to San Antonio, Texas. In or around 1998, the government alleges, Pugh converted to Islam and grew far more radical in his beliefs.
By 2001, Pugh was working for American Airlines — one of the airlines targeted by terrorists in the 9/11 attacks. According to the indictment, the FBI was tipped off that Pugh sympathized with Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader behind the attacks. His views allegedly included statements justifying the 1998 terrorist bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Nairobi were justified.
In 2002, an associate of Pugh’s told the FBI that he had shown interest in going to Chechnya to “fight jihad,” according to the government. From October 2009 to March 2010, Pugh was employed as an Army contractor for DynCorp in Iraq, working in avionics. According to the government, Pugh had been living overseas since 2013.
Pugh had a number of electronic devices in his possession, including multiple cell phones, five USB flash drives, his laptop, and an Apple iPod. The government said he fit a profile of what terrorists are known to carry. A search of one of his cell phones turned up pictures of an airplane bathroom, overhead compartments, airline seats, and a machine gun.
Federal authorities said a search of Pugh’s laptop computer, found among other things, the following:
- Recent Internet searches for “borders controlled by Islamic state;”
- Recent Internet searches for “who controls kobani,” “kobani border crossing,” and “jarablus border crossing,” all references to Syrian cities under ISIL’s control near the Turkish border;
- A chart of crossing points between Turkey and Syria indicating the areas on the Syrian side of the border controlled by ISIL and other groups; and
- Internet searches for “Flames of War,” an ISIL propaganda video, as well as downloaded videos, including one showing ISIL members executing prisoners.