SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A Fort Stewart soldier arrested earlier this week in a plot to blow up New York City’s 9/11 Memorial made his initial appearance in federal court in Savannah.
Cole Bridges, 20, spoke just twice during the hearing Thursday, answering “yes” when asked to confirm his name and “yes” when asked if he is an American citizen.
Bridges is being held in jail in Liberty County but is expected to be extradited to the Southern District of New York.
A 29-page indictment alleges the soldier conversed via encrypted messaging with someone he thought was from the Islamic State group but was actually an FBI agent.
He reportedly expressed his allegiance to ISIS, provided advice on choosing targets in New York and attempted to provide military tactical training — including images from an Army manual.
According to court documents, Bridges became obsessed with propaganda as far back as December of 2019, a matter of months after enlisting in the military.
“It looks like what happened to this soldier is that he fell down a dark hole on YouTube,” said Kristopher Goldsmith, the founder and president of High Ground Veterans Advocacy.
“I have spent the last few years, unfortunately, studying disinformation and extremism in the military and veterans community,” said Goldsmith. “What Americans need to do is demand that their member of Congress investigate not just one soldier you know, trying to support ISIS, but the effect of social media.”
Bridges will be transferred to New York by the U.S Marshal Service to face the federal charges there.
His court-appointed attorney expressed some concern Thursday about his safety during transfer if others know what charges Bridges faces.