New York, New York. A black American has been convicted of attempting to join ISIS and fight in Iraq against US led coalition forces, the unusual part is how a poor choice on his part, ended up in a 35 year prison sentence via American “justice.”
Department of Justice Prosecutors said Tairod Pugh bought a one-way plane ticket from his home in Egypt to Turkey in 2015 planning to cross the Syrian border into territory controlled by the Islamic State. He was detained in an Istanbul airport by Turkish authorities, found carrying maps of Islamic State territory and border crossings into Syria. Which then, took him to a New York court room.
A former US Air Force veteran, Tairod Pugh was convicted of trying to join ISIS forces. He was given a 35 year prison sentence after maintaining his innocence and denouncing American racism and Islamophobia.
Pugh had served as an avionics specialist in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990 and later worked as an Army contractor in Iraq from 2009 to 2010, according to federal prosecutors.
Mr. Pugh, who spoke for about half an hour before US District Judge Nicholas Garaufis cut him off, said he had done nothing wrong, and was treated unjustly because of his race and religion.
“I am a black man. I am a military man. I am a Muslim man,” Pugh said at his sentencing hearing in Brooklyn federal court. “I protected this country and the Constitution. And my service was repaid by dishonoring my name. My only regret is that it’s taken me so long to recognize how frightened and racist my country has become,” Pugh said.
Judge Garaufis said jurors had ample evidence to convict Pugh last March, including Islamic State propaganda videos found on his laptop and posts he wrote on Facebook supporting the extremist organization.
“This isn’t about whether you’re Muslim or Christian or Jewish,” the judge said. “This is about whether you’re going to stand up for your country, or betray your country, which has done so much for you.”
Legal scholars differ with Garaufis on this emotional response of the Judge. “Its prejudiced, the Judge is supposed to be a neutral body administering justice, when he crosses that line he prostitutes justice, he becomes an extension of the prosecution and it’s prejudices for the government position. I think Pugh has grounds for appeal as the Judge went too far in airing his own prejudices in the case.” An American law professor offered to News Front.
“You’ve made your choice, sir,” Garaufis continued, immediately before imposing the sentence. “I have no sympathy.” Pugh’s attorney, Susan Kellman, said after the hearing that Pugh would appeal his conviction and sentence.
Pugh was found guilty after a week-long trial of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, and obstruction of justice, for destroying four portable electronic storage devices after his detention in Turkey.