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US Army private facing terrorism charges over alleged efforts to help ISIS ambush troops

US Army private facing terrorism charges over alleged efforts to help ISIS ambush troops
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A U.S. Army private is facing terrorism charges after he allegedly made efforts to help ISIS ambush U.S. troops, according to court documents unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.

The Justice Department, New York Police Department and U.S. Army Counterintelligence charged Cole Bridges, of Stowe, Ohio, with attempting to provide “material support" to ISIS and attempting to murder U.S. military service members. 

Bridges, who also goes by Cole Gonzales, was arrested on Tuesday and is scheduled to appear in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia later in the day. He could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge, according to a release

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The 20-year-old, who joined the Army around September 2019, served as a cavalry scout in the 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Ga. During the same year he joined, prosecutors said Bridges started reading and viewing online jihadist propaganda and declared his support for ISIS and jihad over social media.

In October 2020, Bridges started talking to an FBI online undercover employee, called the “OCE” in the release, who acted like an ISIS supporter and said they were communicating with ISIS fighters located in the Middle East. 

The complaint alleges that Bridges told the OCE that he was frustrated with the military and wanted to help ISIS and provided the contact with training, including military combat tactics used against ISIS, and guidance, including suggestions about targets in New York City.

Bridges allegedly started giving the OCE directions for ISIS fighters to attack U.S. troops in the Middle East, including certain military strategies to help ISIS kill more U.S. service members. 

Officials said he also gave information about how ISIS should brace an encampment for a U.S. Special Forces attack by wiring explosives in buildings with a goal of killing U.S. troops.

This month, Bridges allegedly sent a video of himself in body armor in front of a flag used by ISIS fighters. About a week later, he sent another video in which Bridges relayed a propaganda speech in support of the ISIS attack on the U.S. troops while using a voice manipulator, according to the complaint.

“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,” acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss said in the release. “Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own.”