A U.S. Army soldier pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to assist the Islamic State terror group on how to ambush his fellow soldiers in the Middle East during conversations in which he believed he was speaking with a terrorist.
Cole Bridges, 22, entered pleas in a Manhattan federal court to trying to provide material support to terrorists and trying to kill U.S. military service members.
Bridges, of Stow, Ohio, was assigned to the Third Infantry Division in Fort Stewart as a cavalry scout at the time of the crime, the Justice Department said. He joined the Army in September 2019.
“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 said. “Bridges’s traitorous conduct was a betrayal of his comrades and his country.”
Soon after enlisting, Bridges began watching ISIS propaganda videos online and expressing support for the terror organization on social media.
In October 2020, he began talking with an undercover FBI agent posing as a ISIS supporter with contacts with ISIS fighters in the Middle East. Bridges allegedly expressed frustration with the Army and began providing training and guidance on planning attacks to the agent and gave advice about potential targets in New York City, federal prosecutors said.
He also allegedly provided the FBI agent with an Army training manual on combat tactics.
In December 2020, Bridges began providing instructions on how ISIS fighters could stage attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East, the Justice Department said. His advice included how to fortify an ISIS encampment to repel an attack by U.S. Special Forces.
In January 2021, Bridges gave the undercover agent a video of himself in his U.S. Army-issued body armor standing in front of a flag used by ISIS fighters and making a gesture symbolic of support for the group.
Another video featured him using a voice manipulator to narrate an ISIS propaganda speech supporting an ambush of U.S. soldiers.
Bridges faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 2.