What to know
- A 20-year-old American soldier stationed out of Georgia allegedly conspired with someone he thought was attacking ISIS, including a 9/11 memorial in New York City.
- Cole James Bridges began researching online propaganda allegedly promoting jihadis and their ideology in September 2019; A criminal complaint states that he later provided tactical military advice and other suggestions
- Bridges are attempted with material support to attempt to terrorize and kill American soldiers; Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years; The lawyer’s information was not clear to him
Federal officials said an American soldier is facing charges that he thought he was a member of ISIS for planning an attack on New York City sites, including the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan – And provides strategic military advice to terrorists.
Cole James Bridges, 20, of Stow, Ohio, is accused of supporting material for terror and attempting to kill American soldiers. He is reportedly engaged in those efforts from August 2020 through this month.
A private first class brigade with the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, reportedly spoke in an online forum that wanted to help ISIS attack the 9/11 Memorial and target American troops in the Middle East Was. His contact in the online forum was actually an FBI undercover agent.
According to the criminal complaint, the bridge was allegedly radicalized by online video and offered to provide ISIS with military training materials and tactics to “facilitate ISIS’s efforts to stop combatants and kill American soldiers.” Has gone.
The bridge reportedly began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadis and their ideology in September 2019; The complaint states that he allegedly expressed his support for ISIS and Jihad on social media around that time.
It was not until October of last year that Bridges allegedly began communicating with an FBI undercover agent he thought was affiliated with ISIS. During those communications, which were carried out using an encrypted messaging app, he reportedly expressed frustration with the US military and his desire to help ISIS take out US troops. The criminal complaint alleges that he advised the attacks of planning “alleged ISIS fighters” related to potential targets in New York City. He reportedly offered parts of the US Army Training Manual and guidance regarding military strategy.
On October 16, 2020, Bridges is accused of sending a warning to an alleged ISIS fighter to plan any operation. That message, according to the complaint, states in part, “They don’t need to be extremely careful and discuss plans over the phone or through messages. Sadly I can’t participate. But only the participation All I can do is advise. [stet] And training techniques. . . Your brother can
Feel free to contact me anytime. “
When asked later that month about the most effective way to carry out an attack, Bridges reportedly responded, “attacking the enemy’s heart, and setting a statement and a clear message to the leaders.”
Later at the exchange, Bridges offered to come to New York to meet an ISIS fighter with whom he thought he was in contact. At this point, the negotiations moved toward potential targets in New York City, officials say.
In mid-November, Undercover agents sent bridges photographs of federal, local and foreign government buildings in and around the New York City area. That agent claimed “everything is too heavy, I don’t know if it’s even possible to do an operation in NYC.”
Bridges allegedly advised the agent to “choose his goals wisely” and inquired about other possible targets under consideration. It was not immediately clear which government buildings were the follow-up subjects of the conversation, but Bridge reportedly said there was “not enough firepower” for those people. This was when the subject of the 9/11 Memorial was scrapped, the criminal complaint states.
In December, Bridges allegedly began instructing an “ISIS” agent on how ISIS fighters could attack the US military in the Middle East. Among other efforts, he is accused of drawing specific military maneuvers and commenting on satellite images to help those fighters maximize the lethality of any attack on American troops. The status and weapons of ISIS were also discussed.
Bridges also advised on the best way to prevent ISIS encroachment against the US attack, including wiring some buildings with explosives to kill US troops. This month, he went so far as to allegedly provide a video of himself in body armor standing in front of an ISIS flag and made a symbolic gesture of support for ISIS in that clip, according to the criminal complaint.
On January 12, Bridges allegedly sent a second video in which he delivered a propaganda speech in support of an anticipated ISIS attack on US troops using a voice manipulation at the request of an undercover agent, federal officials alleged.
According to the complaint, the search for key words like “our soldier shooting” and “rogue jihadi” occurred on his computer on December 25, 2019 through the warrant date. He allegedly updated his Facebook profile and background to reflect his views this August. Images of the changes were included in the complaint (see below).
Bridges faces up to 20 years in prison for each attempt to murder material and members of the US military count. Authorities are expected to appear in federal court in Georgia on Thursday.
Attempts to reach a potential attorney for the bridges were unsuccessful until Tuesday afternoon.
Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss, in a statement betraying the bridges, accused Bridges of swearing to protect America by trying to strategically advise ISIS to ambush and kill fellow service members.
Strauss said, “Our soldiers risked their lives for our country, but they should never face such a risk in their own hands.”, Thanks to the efforts of JTTF agents and spies and our allies today Thank you. The Department of Defense is in bridge custody and is facing federal terrorism charges for its alleged crimes. “
FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney Jr. also called for Bridges for his alleged betrayal, stating that he “believed he was an ISIS sympathizer to help attack ISIS and kill American soldiers in the Middle East.”
“Fortunately, the person he communicated with was an FBI employee, and we were able to stop his evil wishes from coming to fruition,” Sweeney’s statement continued. “Bridges could have opted for a life of honorable service, but instead traded it for the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence. The case should serve as a reminder that the FBI’s New York JTTF is committed to protecting its nation Will never leave. Those who want to harm it. “