U.S. Army Soldier Arrested On Terrorism Charges, Allegedly Tried To Help ISIS Ambush U.S. Troops And Target NYC 9/11 Memorial


On Tuesday, the Department of Justice, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, and the NYPD announced the arrest of U.S. Army Private First Class Cole James Bridges on federal terrorism charges of attempting to help ISIS ambush U.S. troops overseas and target New York City landmarks.

According to the DOJ, Bridges, also known as Cole Gonzales, was charged with “attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and attempting to murder U.S. military service members.”

“Bridges is charged with giving military advice and guidance on how to kill fellow soldiers to individuals he thought were part of ISIS,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in a statement issued on Tuesday. “ISIS ideology continues to infect those who would threaten the nation’s security from within and without, and we will continue to fight this threat.”

It says Bridges, 20, a native of Stow, Ohio, allegedly “began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology” as early as 2019. He joined the U.S. Army in September of that year. Authorities said Bridges had “expressed his support for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (“ISIS”) and jihad on social media.”

The complaint claims Bridges “began communicating with an FBI online covert employee (the OCE) who was posing as an ISIS supporter in contact with ISIS fighters in the Middle East” around October 2020. He allegedly “provided training and guidance to purported ISIS fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City, such as the 9/11 Memorial.” Law enforcement also accused Bridges of providing the OCE with portions of a U.S. Army training manual revealing military combat tactics.

More details from the complaint:

In or about December 2020, BRIDGES began to supply the OCE with instructions for the purported ISIS fighters on how to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East.  Among other things, BRIDGES diagrammed specific military maneuvers intended to help ISIS fighters maximize the lethality of attacks on U.S. troops.  BRIDGES further provided advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by U.S. Special Forces, including by wiring certain buildings with explosives to kill the U.S. troops.  Then, in January 2021, BRIDGES provided the OCE with a video of himself in body armor standing before a flag often used by ISIS fighters and making a gesture symbolic of support for ISIS.  Approximately a week later, BRIDGES sent a second video in which BRIDGES, using a voice manipulator, narrated a propaganda speech in support of the anticipated ambush by ISIS on U.S. troops.

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said Bridges “betrayed our country and his unit when he plotted with someone he believed was an ISIS sympathizer to help ISIS attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.”

“Fortunately, the person with whom he communicated was an FBI employee, and we were able to prevent his evil desires from coming to fruition,” Sweeney continued. “Bridges could have chosen a life of honorable service, but instead he traded it for the possibility of life in prison.”

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.