A soldier in the U.S. Army who posed with an ISIS flag was arrested this week for allegedly attempting to assist ISIS with plans to attack U.S. soldiers in the Middle East and the 9/11 Memorial in New York.
According to Justice Department officials in New York, Cole Bridges, a Private First Class in the Army, was arrested Tuesday after he allegedly “betrayed the oath he swore to defend the United States by attempting to provide ISIS with tactical military advice.”
The department’s report said Bridges started expressing his support for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham on social media as early as 2019. The Fort Stewart cavalry scout began communicating with an undercover FBI agent posing as an ISIS supporter late last year, during which he expressed frustration with the U.S. military and a desire to help ISIS.
“Bridges then 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,” the report stated. “Bridges also provided the [FBI agent] with portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics, for use by ISIS.”
Then, in December 2020, the soldier started supplying the undercover agent with guidelines on how ISIS fighters should attack U.S. forces in the Middle East.
“Bridges diagrammed specific military maneuvers intended to help ISIS fighters maximize the lethality of attacks on U.S. troops. Bridges further provided advice about the best way to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by U.S. Special Forces, including by wiring certain buildings with explosives to kill the U.S. troops,” the report stated.
In January 2021, Bridges gave the undercover agent “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.” About one week later, the soldier provided the agent with a second video in which Bridges “narrated a propaganda speech in support of the anticipated ambush by ISIS on U.S. troops” while using a voice manipulator.”
Army Counterintelligence Coordinating Authority Director Roy T. Cochran said, “Army Counterintelligence’s top priority is protecting the force so it can remain committed to fighting and winning our Nation’s wars. The results of this investigation show the efforts of Army Counterintelligence agents working alongside our partners in the FBI. We are dedicated to protecting our Soldiers, Civilians, and Families from terrorist acts and insider threats.”
Bridges is charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and with attempting to murder U.S. military service members, violations of U.S. code that each carry maximum 20 year sentences.