A prosecutor in New York City says a U.S. Air Force veteran wanted to join the Islamic State group and die a martyr, but the defense calls the federal case fantasy.

The differing portrayals came during opening statements Monday at the trial of Tairod Pugh (TAY'-rahd pyoo) in Brooklyn.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Bini (BEE'-nee) told an anonymous jury that Pugh went to Turkey intending to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State. He says Pugh destroyed four computer flash drives when he realized he was being scrutinized by authorities.

Defense lawyer Eric Creizman (CRYTS'-muhn) says his client is innocent. He says Pugh was not going to Syria.

He warned jurors that some of Pugh's opinions are offensive, but he says Pugh does not believe in killing civilians.