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November 29, 2015 / 17 Kislev, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘u.s. air force’

US Army Vet Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ on Trying to Join ISIS

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Turkish authorities caught a U.S. Armed Forces veteran this past January as he was allegedly attempting to join Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group, or ISIS.

U.S. federal authorities say U.S. Air Force veteran and New Jersey native Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, flew to Turkey from Egypt in January, but was denied entry to the country. Instead, they say Turkey sent Pugh back to Egypt, who then deported the veteran to the U.S.

(Given the skill and speed with which Turkish authorities caught this suspect, one wonders how three Islamic schoolgirls from the UK managed to sneak through the country into Syria to become Daesh “brides.”)

Pugh was arrested January 10 in Turkey and on January 16 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and has been held in custody since that time, the Wall Street Journal reported. The alleged wannabe terrorist was formally charged by the federal grand jury with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and obstruction of justice. On Wednesday he pleaded “not guilty” in a New York federal court room, CNN reported.

If found guilty, Pugh could be sentenced to a maximum of 35 years in prison.

According to a post on the blog of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Pugh’s Face­book pro­file included mul­ti­ple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts as well as posts sup­port­ing Hamas.

One of the posts written by Pugh in July 2014 stated in part, “All the evil done by the Jews came from within them­selves. On the day of Judg­ment full respon­si­bil­ity of the starv­ing, tor­ture, jail­ing and killing of inno­cent Mus­lims will rest upon there (sic) shoul­ders. Allah must really hate them to give the rope to hang them­selves.” He also posted an image with text stat­ing, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our G-d is Lucifer.”

In August 2014, he shared an image that ref­er­enced blood libel accu­sa­tions, depict­ing Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Netanyahu slit­ting the throats of sleep­ing children. Pugh also posted sev­eral car­toons equat­ing Jews, Israelis or Zion­ists to Nazis, as well as numerous images claim­ing to depict Israeli war crimes.

Under questioning while being held in Egypt prior to deportation to the U.S. Pugh claimed he had traveled to Turkey to seek employment, denying he had intended to go to Syria, according to the criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.

However, a search of the suspect’s laptop by federal agents turned up a map of Turkish-Syrian border crossing points, and some 180 jihadist propaganda videos – including a number showing ISIS prisoners being executed. Also found on his laptop was a letter addressed to “My Misha,” whicch stated, “I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States.”

That Pugh refers to ‘Islamic States’ in the plural form is, in fact, quite chilling: Daesh has indeed spread its influence and its forces from Iraq and Syria into a number of other countries, including Yemen, Nigeria and Libya. Pockets of terrorist cells have also been found in the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, Lebanon, France, Belgium, and Denmark.

Pugh was charged with “obstruction of justice” in response to the suspect’s intentional damage and removal of memory chips from four thumb drives in order to stymie law enforcement officials in their attempts to access data, authorities said. According to the criminal complaint, Pugh was also asked why he had a photo of a machine gun on his cell phone. He replied that he had “no particular reason other than simply liking the photograph.”

But Pugh’s history did not begin with his flight to the Turkish-Syrian border; actually he has been on the “watch list” for more than 10 years. Quoting the criminal complaint, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pugh converted to Islam and then started ramping up his radical sympathies after moving to San Antonio in 1998.

The FBI received a first tip from a co-worker while Pugh was working as a mechanic for American Airlines in 2001, when he was saying he sympathized with Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and supported the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Africa. By 2002, the FBI heard that Pugh had expressed interest in traveling to Chechnya to fight the jihad (Islamic holy war.)

Pugh had already worked as an Air Force mechanic from 1986 to 1990, and was assigned to various bases around the world, according to the U.S. Air Force. He lived abroad for some 18 months, including in Egypt and Jordan, prior to his arrest, according to the criminal complaint. But following his discharge, Pugh had trouble holding down a steady job.

At some point from 2009 to 2010, he worked as an Army contractor for a five month period in Iraq.

Earlier this year, he was fired again, this time from a gig as an airplane mechanic for a firm “based in the Middle East.”

Last Friday, three Brooklyn men also pleaded “not guilty” in Brooklyn federal court to charges of conspiring to aid the ISIS terrorist organization.

Over the past 18 months “dozens” of Americans have faced criminal charges relating to ISIS. FBI director James Comey said at a news briefing last month that his agency has active cases open “in every single state” in connection with the ISIS terror organization.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Preventing Americans from joining ISIS has become a priority for federal law-enforcement officials, but they have been unable to find a singular profile of the type of American who is inspired by the militant group’s propaganda.”

Due to the lack of a hat, a tip of the keyboard will have to do for kudos to WSJ journalists Dion Nissenbaum and Nicole Hong for being able to compose and type that last with a (presumed) straight face.

State of Unreadiness

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

My colleague Timothy Whiteman at Liberty Unyielding highlighted recently the number of Air Force squadrons that will have to cease training later this year because the Air Force doesn’t have funds for the flying hours.  This is real, and it is astounding.  It will mean that, at a certain point in the near future, as early as this fall, if no additional funds become available, the cost of mounting an operation big enough to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons-related installations is likely to be too high.

This is because there will be no force depth to either sustain follow-on operations or overcome the geographic constraints U.S. forces are increasingly likely to face.  Assuming all of the Air Force’s stand-downs and readiness-losses do occur, the available front-line forces would be maxed out with a moderately scoped strike package.  To meet the task, they would require the most favorable basing options that could be available in the Persian Gulf under today’s conditions – but which may not be available.  If we don’t have those favorable basing options and the Air Force squadron groundings remain on track, the Iran strike goes from all-but-under-resourced to impossible.

There will not, after all, be two aircraft carriers on station near Iran, with their combined eight squadrons of Navy strike-fighters (more on that below).  It will in theory be possible to deploy a second carrier, but doing so is pretty much certain to require more money from Congress.  (Doing so would also enlarge and accelerate the readiness snowball for the Navy’s carrier force, a snowball that will inevitably become an avalanche of carrier unreadiness in the next three years, if world problems require unplanned operations during this period.)

The Air Force will have to carry the load of a strike on Iran, if there is to be one in the foreseeable future.  The Air Force’s forward-deployed squadrons will continue to train and conduct operational flights.  The B-2s and some of the B-52s, which can deploy immediately and/or operate globally from their bases stateside, will remain combat ready.  But the strike-fighter squadrons at their home bases in the States, which would be called on if a major operation had to be ordered, will be in an impaired state of readiness.  The aircrews will fall out of combat qualification when they haven’t been able to get their training hours in (and some aircraft maintenance will be deferred as well).  If the president wanted to order a new operation, beyond our current military commitments, it is not clear what would happen.

Geography rules

This is a good time to briefly review the features of the hole we are backing into, with respect to an Iran strike.  (I wrote more about some of them in February).  The features of this hole can be grouped geographically and in terms of military resources.

Geographically, the potential axes of approach to Iran for a nuclear-facilities strike have been whittled down significantly, through political attrition and strategic disuse.  Five years ago, U.S. forces might have approached from multiple axes, including possibilities like operating intelligence or refueling aircraft out of Turkey, or inserting special forces from Iraq.  These were at least political possibilities at that time; today, they fall between unlikely and not happening.

Moreover, it is no longer guaranteed that we would be able to launch the Air Force’s strike-fighter aircraft from Qatar or Kuwait, still less from a base in UAE or Oman.  We don’t normally operate Air Force aircraft from Bahrain, but even Bahrain – long our closest partner in the Gulf – may not be a fallback option.  Iraq will not be an option at all, and Afghanistan would object to being used as a base for launching attacks on Iran.  The same can be said of Pakistan.

If the Air Force has to launch most of the aircraft for this operation, we have a serious problem.  B-2s and B-52s launch from elsewhere, of course, but for certain types of bombing, they will require fighter escort protection while over Iran.  Refueling tankers orbiting over the Gulf will require fighter protection as well, as will the EA-3 Sentry airborne command and control platform.

We may or may not have the use of other nations’ air space to approach Iran (e.g., Kuwait’s, Jordan’s, Saudi Arabia’s, or Oman’s); if we don’t, there will be one way in and out of the Persian Gulf air space through which manned bombers will have to transit.  That in itself is a significant vulnerability.  Geographically, there is a real possibility that the U.S. would be limited to bringing aircraft in through the air space over the Strait of Hormuz.  If there is nowhere local for aircraft to recover – e.g., Oman – that limitation would effectively knock the Air Force strike-fighters out of a small operation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/state-of-unreadiness/2013/04/23/

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