Former U.S. Air Force mechanic charged with trying to join IS in Syria, officials say

Former U.S. Air Force mechanic charged with trying to join IS in Syria, officials say

A former U.S. Air Force mechanic has been charged with trying to cross into Syria to join ISIS, authorities said today.

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh was indicted on Monday by grand jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., on two charges that included attempting to provide material support to terror organization and obstruction and attempted obstruction of an official proceeding.

The indictment does not offer much in the way of details about the case, but says that between May 2014 and January 12, 2015, he tried to join ISIS.

He was charged via secret criminal complaint on Jan. 16 and was arrested two days later.

The indictment says that in the days leading up to his arrest, he tried to damage or destroy four USB thumb drives and the images and files on them, authorities said.

Those computer files, officials said, showed that in late December 2014, Pugh had "conducted Internet searches" for "borders controlled by Islamic state” and "who controls kobani,” "kobani border crossing” and “jarablus border crossing."

The search also revealed that this past January, he also downloaded a "chart of crossing points between Turkey and Syria" — indicating the areas on the Syrian side of the border controlled by ISIS, authorities said.

"He also searched for 'Flames of War,' a 55-minute ... propaganda video, and in late December 2014 he downloaded a video showing [ISIS] members executing prisoners by lining them up and shooting them in the head," according to court papers.

Pugh served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990 as an avionics instrument specialist.

Pugh will be arraigned before a federal judge on Wednesday. If convicted at trial, Pugh faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.

— Pierre Thomas and Mike Levine