STOW, Ohio (WOIO) - A United States soldier from Stow, Ohio is now facing terrorism charges after the FBI said he tried to give U.S. military tactical information and advice on how to attack America to ISIS members.
U.S. Army Private First Class Cole Bridges, 20, who also went by Cole Gonzales, was arrested in Georgia Tuesday, according to the FBI.
He is charged with attempting to provide information to ISIS and attempting to murder military service members.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Bridges joined the Army in September 2019, according to the criminal complaint.
Agents said he was researching ISIS propaganda months before.
He’s also accused of helping to plot a terror attack at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.
“The events of 9/11 are what inspired me as well as thousands of other patriotic Americans to enlist in the military,” said Jeremy McIntire, vice president of the Stow City Council and a U.S. Army veteran.
He didn’t know Bridges, but he was shocked to hear of what the fellow soldier was planning.
“As an Army veteran and a purple heart recipient from my time and my service, I found it to be very concerning. He violated the oath,” McIntire added.
According to the FBI, Bridges was discussing plans since October, with someone he thought was an ISIS supporter who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
In the last few months, Bridges posted pictures to one of his Facebook accounts, including one of him in front of the ISIS flag, gesturing support.
In court documents, he’s quoted during online conversations with the undercover FBI agent calling members of ISIS his “brothers” and claiming he would betray his unit and join ISIS fighters if needed.
He’s also accused of sending several pictures of pages from a U.S. Army field manual and offering advice on attacking soldiers overseas.
When asked by the undercover agent how he was able to join the Army with ISIS contacts, Bridges replied, “nobody knew I had contacts besides my family, but it was never confirmed. They were suspicious.”
“He traded what could’ve been a life of honorable service to now what will be a lengthy prison sentence,” said McIntire.
19 News reached out to family members of Bridges, but they did not wish to comment.