Tairod Pugh, a United States Air Force veteran, has been found guilty of turning his back on the country he had sworn to protect. The case against the radicalized Air Force avionics instrument specialist has been going on for a couple of years now since his arrest in 2015. Now the US justice department has finally sentenced Pugh to 35 years in prison for providing material support to the Terror Group, ISIS.

Homegrown radical

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been aware of Pugh's radicalization for more than a decade. The agency had placed Pugh on their radar but was not able to take action as he had not yet committed a crime.

In 2001, court documents revealed that Pugh had allegedly told a co-worker at American Airlines that he "sympathized with Osama Bin Laden" and that he felt that the bombing of the US embassies in 1998 was "justified."

The evidence acquired

Upon his arrest, several of Pugh's electronics were confiscated and revealed some disturbing evidence towards his intention of aiding and joining ISIS. His smartphone allegedly contained pictures of an airplane bathroom, overhead compartments, and airline seat configurations. A letter to his Egyptian wife was also recovered. In the letter, Pugh told his wife that he was now a "Mujahid," a Muslim engaged in Jihad, who is ready to use the skills given to him by Allah to "defend the Islamic State." He even ended the letter by saying that there will only be two outcomes of his efforts and that it would either be victory or be a martyr.

Attempts at joining ISIS

During the court hearings, prosecutors were able to present evidence that traced Pugh's travels in the Middle East. Pugh was apparently trying to fly to Turkey from Egypt in an attempt to cross into Syria. Turkish authorities were suspicious that Pugh was heading to Syria and denied him entry.

Upon his return to Egypt, authorities found some suspicious electronics that were in his possession, including four stripped USB thumb drives and an iPod that was wiped clean of data.

Pugh refused to give Turkish authorities his electronics, which then led to his deportation to the United States where he was met by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Acting United States Attorney Bridget Rohde, explained during the sentencing that it was clear that Pugh had turned his back on his country and that his intent of joining ISIS has clearly been proven.

Eric Creizman, Pugh's lawyer, also mentioned in a statement that there was reasonable doubt in the case, but ultimately his state of mind was made apparent through his actions on the internet and via the evidence presented.