alleged in the complaint, indictment and other court
filings, Pugh served in the Air Force as an avionics
instrument system specialist and received training in
the installation and maintenance of aircraft engine,
navigation and weapons systems.
the Air Force, Pugh worked for a number of companies in
the United States
and Middle East as an
avionics specialist and airplane mechanic. Pugh lived
abroad for over a year before his arrest in this case.
Earlier this year, weeks after being fired from his last
job as an airplane mechanic based in the
Middle East, Pugh attempted to join ISIL. On
Jan. 10, 2015, the Pugh traveled from Egypt to Turkey
in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIL and fight violent
Turkish authorities denied Pugh entry,
however, and sent him on a return flight to
Egypt. Upon his arrival
Egypt, Pugh was
carrying multiple electronic devices, including four USB
thumb drives that had been stripped of their plastic
casings and an iPod that had been wiped clean of data.
Pugh also had a cellular telephone that contained, among
other things, a photograph of a machinegun. Pugh was
soon thereafter deported to the United States.
Jan. 14, 2015, JTTF agents obtained a search warrant for
Pugh’s electronic devices, including his laptop
computer. Subsequent exploitation of the laptop
revealed, among other things, the following:
Recent Internet searches for “borders controlled by
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.
The Pugh was arrested pursuant to a federal
complaint on Jan. 16, 2015, in Asbury Park, New
Jersey, and he has been in custody ever since. After
the defendant’s arrest, JTTF agents seized and later
obtained warrants to search two backpacks that the
defendant had when he was overseas. Agents recovered
from the backpacks, among other things: two
compasses, a solar-powered flashlight, a
solar-powered power source, shards of broken USB
thumb drives, a fatigue jacket and camping clothes.
If convicted, Pugh faces a maximum sentence of 35
years in prison.