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U.S. Army soldier Cole Bridges pleads guilty to attempting to help ISIS murder U.S. troops

Washington — A 22-year-old Army soldier has pleaded guilty to attempting to help ISIS ambush and murder U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, the Justice Department announced Friday. 

Cole Bridges, also known as Cole Gonzales, of Stow, Ohio, faces up to 40 years in prison for his crimes. He pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and attempting to murder U.S. military service members.

Bridges joined the Army in about September 2019, assigned as a cavalry scout in Georgia, federal prosecutors said. That same year, he began researching online propaganda promoting jihadists, and expressed his support for ISIS and jihad online. In about October 2020, prosecutors said Bridges began communicating with an undercover FBI agent who posed as an ISIS supporter in contact with ISIS fighters. 

Bridges, not realizing he was communicating with federal law enforcement, "provided training and guidance to purported ISIS fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City," prosecutors said. Bridges even diagrammed specific military maneuvers to help ISIS kill the most U.S. troops. He was arrested in January 2021.

"As he admitted in court today, 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 of the Southern District of New York said in a statement. "Bridges's traitorous conduct was a betrayal of his comrades and his country. Thanks to the incredible work of the prosecutors of this office and our partners at the FBI and the U.S. Army, Bridges's malign intent was revealed, and he now awaits sentencing for his crimes."    

The FBI's New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as U.S. Army Counterintelligence, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Bridge's division — the U.S. Army Third Infantry Division — and other law enforcement and military entities worked on the case, Williams' office said.

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