Clay County man enters guilty plea to bomb charge

Posted 12/21/17

JACKSONVILLE – An Orange Park area man who was accused of planning a terrorist bombing plot online will not stand trial in federal court.

Joshua Ryne Goldberg, 22, of Orange Park, on Dec. 20 …

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Clay County man enters guilty plea to bomb charge

Posted

JACKSONVILLE – An Orange Park area man who was accused of planning a terrorist bombing plot online will not stand trial in federal court.

Joshua Ryne Goldberg, 22, of Orange Park, on Dec. 20 waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with attempted malicious damage and destruction by an explosive of a building, according to acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow.

Goldberg faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, with a 5-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, in the summer of 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement officers from Australia began investigating the online name “AusWitness” and determined that it was Goldberg.

Goldberg had come to the attention of law enforcement due in part to his postings concerning the May 3, 2015, attack by two gunmen at the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas. Prior to the attack, Goldberg posted a map of the location of the contest and urged anyone in the area to attack the event.

Goldberg’s posting was copied by gunman Elton Simpson, one of the two individuals killed during the May 3, 2015, attack. The FBI later located an online posting in which Goldberg took responsibility for inspiring the Garland attack, as well as two other planned attacks.

In late July 2015, an FBI confidential informant began exchanging online messages with Goldberg as “AusWitness.”

Between July and mid-August 2015, Goldberg discussed getting an individual in Melbourne, Australia to carry out a terrorist attack and to having the CHS commit a bombing in the United States. During portions of those conversations, Goldberg sent the informant five website links containing instructions for making an explosive device, including pipe bombs and other incendiary devices.

On August 20, 2015, Goldberg stated that he was thinking of pipe bombs at a large public event and later said that a pressure cooker bomb may be better. Later that month, Goldberg told the CHS that he had found the “perfect place” to target on September 11, 2015, and sent the informant a link to a Kansas City, Missouri firefighter’s event that memorialized first responders that had been killed in the September 11th attacks.

On August 27, 2015, Goldberg instructed the informant to place the bomb near the crowd at the memorial event and to ensure it was very well hidden.

The following day, Goldberg provided the informant with a list of items to use in the pressure cooker bomb, including shards of metal, nails and broken glass. He then instructed the informant to dip screws and other shrapnel in rat poison before putting them in the pressure cooker bomb so as to have more casualties. Goldberg said he would post a video of the bombing. A forensic analysis of the bomb making information determined that it could have been used to make explosives that would cause property damage, personal injury and/or death.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. Members of the Jacksonville JTTF include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

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