Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York with attempting to join the militant group in January, weeks after being fired from his job as an airplane mechanic in the Middle East.
"Born and raised in the United States, Pugh allegedly turned his back on his country and attempted to travel to Syria in order to join a terrorist organization," said US Attorney Loretta Lynch. "We will continue to vigorously prosecute extremists, whether based here or abroad, to stop them before they are able to threaten the United States and its allies."
A Justice Department statement said Pugh traveled from Egypt to Turkey on Jan. 10 in an effort to cross the border into Syria to join ISIL.
He was denied entry into Turkey and placed on a return flight to Egypt, from where he was deported to the US.
Pugh previously served in the US Air Force as an avionics instrument system specialist, the Department of Justice said.