An active duty American soldier is in federal custody Tuesday after he allegedly plotted with someone he thought was a member of ISIS to attack a landmark in New York City and fellow troops overseas, according to a law enforcement official.
US Soldier charged with terrorism
Cole James Bridges, who is stationed at Fort Stewart, is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and attempting to murder U.S. service members.
The Ohio native allegedly spoke to an undercover FBI agent when he thought he was planning an ISIS-inspired attack against the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Private First Class Cole James Bridges “betrayed the oath he swore” when he tried to supply ISIS with tactical military advice to ambush U.S. troops overseas, federal prosecutors in New York said Tuesday when announcing the criminal charges.
“Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own,” acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.
Bridges is charged with giving military advice and guidance on how to kill fellow soldiers to individuals he thought were part of ISIS.
“Fortunately, the person with whom he communicated was an FBI employee, and we were able to prevent his evil desires from coming to fruition,” FBI Assistant Director Bill Sweeney said.
Military investigating their own troops
Bridges joined the U.S. Army in 2019 and was assigned as a cavalry scout in the 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Georgia. From the beginning of his service, court records said, Bridges began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology. He is accused of expressing support for ISIS and allegedly began his collaboration with an FBI undercover last October.
“During these communications, Bridges expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid ISIS,” court records said.
Bridges is alleged to have 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. He gave the undercover portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics, for use by ISIS, according to the criminal complaint.
Earlier this month Bridges gave the undercover 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. A week later he sent a second video, using a voice manipulator, in which he narrated an ISIS propaganda speech, federal prosecutors said.