A U.S. soldier is facing 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to using his Army training to help the ISIS terror group launch attacks against American soldiers in the Middle East and targets in the U.S., federal prosecutors said Wednesday.
Pfc. Cole Bridges, also known as Cole Gonzales, admitted in court that he plotted to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as part of a plot to kill U.S. military service members, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“Cole Bridges attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush on his fellow soldiers in service of ISIS and its violent ideology,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “Bridge’s traitorous conduct was a betrayal of his comrades and his country.”
He joined the Army in September 2019 and was assigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia, as a cavalry scout in the 3rd Infantry Division. Almost immediately, Bridges began researching information about jihadist groups and their violent ideology, including expressing his support for ISIS on social media, prosecutors said.
In October 2020, he began communicating online with an undercover FBI employee posing as an ISIS supporter in contact with fighters in the Middle East.
“During these communications, Bridges expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid ISIS. Bridges then provided training and guidance to purported ISIS fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Bridges also provided [the undercover FBI employee] with portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics, for use by ISIS.”
In December 2020, Bridges started supplying the FBI employee with information about striking U.S. troops in the Middle East. He diagrammed specific military maneuvers meant to help them maximize the lethality of attacks on military personnel, including how to repel attacks by U.S. troops by wiring buildings with explosives, prosecutors said.
In January 2021, Bridges gave the FBI employee a video of himself wearing Army body armor while standing in front of an ISIS flag and making a symbolic gesture supporting the terror group. He sent a second video about a week later backing an anticipated ISIS ambush on U.S. troops, officials said.
Sentencing has been set for November, prosecutors said.
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