20-year-old US Army soldier charged with providing kill targets for ISIS, plotting ways to attack the 9/11 Memorial in New York

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David Choi
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ISIS fighter
An ISIS fighter waves a flag while standing on captured government fighter jet in Raqqa, Syria, 2015. y: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
  • A 20-year-old US Army soldier was arrested on federal terrorism charges and is accused of trying to help ISIS kill other service members in the Middle East, according to the Justice Department.

  • Private First Class Cole Bridges is accused of helping plan targets like the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and giving "advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by US Special Forces."

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A 20-year-old US Army soldier was arrested on federal terrorism charges and is accused of trying to help ISIS to kill other service members in the Middle East, according to the Justice Department.

Private First Class 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," US Attorney Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York said in a press release.

"Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own," Strauss added.

Bridges is alleged to have plotted online with an FBI employee disguised as an ISIS sympathizer around October 2020. He enlisted in the Army as a cavalry scout and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division out of Georgia in September 2019.

It was during that time that Bridges "began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology" and became vocal about the movement on social media, the Justice Department said. Bridges, who "expressed his frustration with the US military and his desire to aid ISIS," then transitioned to provide military training for what he believed to be ISIS.

Bridges' guidance allegedly included planning targets like the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and giving "advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by US Special Forces." Bridges is also accused of providing the FBI informant with sections of military training manuals.

In January, Bridges submitted to the informant a video of himself wearing body armor in front of the ISIS flag. Around a week later, he submitted another video with his manipulated voice narrating an ISIS propaganda speech, the Justice Department alleged.

"Bridges could have chosen a life of honorable service, but instead he traded it for the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence," FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney Jr. said.

Each of the charges - trying to provide material aid to ISIS and to kill US service members - carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Bridges is expected to face the charges in the Southern District of Georgia on Thursday.

The 3rd Infantry Division, who assisted in the joint FBI and US Army Counterintelligence investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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