A U.S. Army soldier has been arrested and charged with plotting to blow up New York City's 9/11 Memorial, and plotting to kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.
Cole James Bridges, 20, also known as Cole Gonzales, was arrested Tuesday in the U.S. state of Georgia on charges of attempted material support to the Islamic State terrorist group and the attempted murder of another U.S. service member, the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York said in a statement Tuesday.
According to the Justice Department, Bridges began "researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology" in 2019. In October 2020, he began communicating with an FBI employee who was posing as an Islamic State supporter.
"Bridges expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid ISIS," the Justice Department said, using an acronym for the terror group. The department added that Bridges "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 also provided portions of a U.S. Army training manual about combat tactics, according to federal prosecutors.
In December, Bridges allegedly provided the FBI employee with instructions about how IS could attack U.S. troops in the Middle East, including how to fortify an IS encampment against attack by U.S. Special Forces.
This month, Bridges sent the FBI employee "video of himself in body armor standing before a flag often used by ISIS fighters and making a gesture symbolic of support for ISIS," according to the Justice Department news release.
Bridges was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and was a member of the 3rd Infantry Division.
He is scheduled to make a court appearance in Georgia on Thursday.