Source: Jihad Watch, By Robert Spencer, June 18, 2023
There wasn’t any reason to think Cole James Bridges was anything more than an average young American. After he graduated from high school, he worked at a Papa John’s pizza shop in Stow, Ohio, for a while, and then, in Sept. 2019, joined the U.S. Army. He got sent to Fort Stewart in Georgia, where he became a cavalry scout. Thousands of young Americans have followed paths similar to the one Bridges embarked upon, but then he took a sharp turn no one expected: on Wednesday, Cole James Bridges pleaded guilty to trying to aid ISIS’ efforts to kill American soldiers.
It’s not clear exactly when Bridges, who also sometimes went by his mother’s maiden name and called himself Cole Gonzales, converted to Islam. He may have done so before he entered the army, or by Christmas Day 2019, when he searched the Internet for “us soldier shooting,” “ak 47 downsight,” and “badass jihadi.” Less than a year after that, in Oct. 2020, Bridges began communicating with an FBI agent whom he thought was an Islamic State (ISIS) operative.
The Justice Department reported Wednesday that Bridges is now looking at spending the next forty years in prison for “attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and attempting to murder U.S. military service members.” There is abundant reason to give him the maximum sentence: in his conversations with the deceptive fed, Bridges “expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid ISIS.” He also “provided training and guidance to purported ISIS fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City.” He even gave the person he thought was his ISIS contact “portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics, for use by ISIS.”
That wasn’t all. Around Dec. 2020, Bridges gave his ISIS contact “instructions for the purported ISIS fighters on how to attack U.S. forces in the Middle East.” He “diagrammed specific military maneuvers intended to help ISIS fighters maximize the lethality of attacks on U.S. troops.” He also “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.” Warming to his role, Bridge made a video of himself, which he passed on to his contact, in which he wears army body armor while “standing in front of a flag often used by ISIS fighters and making a gesture symbolic of support for ISIS.” He also sent along “a propaganda speech in support of the anticipated ambush by ISIS on U.S. troops.”
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