On January 19th, a Private First Class in the U.S. Army was arrested on federal terrorism charges and affiliation to ISIS.
The US Department of Justice announced the arrest of Cole James Bridges, a/k/a “Cole Gonzales,” 20 years old.
He is charged with terrorism for his alleged efforts to assist ISIS to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:
“As alleged, Cole Bridges betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush and kill his fellow service members. Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own. Today, thanks to the efforts of the agents and detectives of the JTTF, and our partners in the Department of Defense, Bridges is in custody and facing federal terrorism charges for his alleged crimes.”
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said:
“Bridges is charged with giving military advice and guidance on how to kill fellow soldiers to individuals he thought were part of ISIS. This alleged personal and professional betrayal of comrades and country is terrible to contemplate, but fortunately, the FBI was able to identify the threat posed by Bridges, and today’s charges are the first step in holding him accountable for his crimes. 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.”
The US Army’s Counterintelligence Coordinating Authority Director Roy T. Cochran said that it is committed to protecting the US soldiers’ lives and that the investigation showed the successful efforts to do that.
“Army Counterintelligence’s top priority is protecting the force so it can remain committed to fighting and winning our Nation’s wars. The results of this investigation show the efforts of Army Counterintelligence agents working alongside our partners in the FBI. We are dedicated to protecting our Soldiers, Civilians, and Families from terrorist acts and insider threats.”
Bridges joined the U.S. Army in approximately September 2019, and was assigned as a cavalry scout in the 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Beginning in at least 2019, he allegedly began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology.
He even expressed his support for ISIS and jihad on social media, but that apparently didn’t turn a red flag back then.
In or about October 2020, Bridges began communicating with an FBI online covert employee who was posing as an ISIS supporter in contact with ISIS fighters in the Middle East.
The 20-year-old expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid ISIS.
He then even 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.
In December 2020, Bridges began to supply the FBI covert employee with instructions for the purported ISIS fighters on how to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Among other things, the 20-year-old private diagrammed specific military maneuvers intended to help ISIS fighters maximize the lethality of attacks on U.S. troops.
He 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 FBI covert agent 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 he, using a voice manipulator, narrated a propaganda speech in support of the anticipated ambush by ISIS on U.S. troops.
The detained serviceman faces more than forty years of imprisonment. His trial should begin on January 21st.
It’s interesting that he was allowed to radicalize and was simply monitored as a sort of test subject for 1 and a half years.
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