The US Justice Department reported on Thursday that a man arrested in Florida over alleged plans to denote a bomb at a memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, during the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks has been identified as 20-year-old Jewish American Joshua Ryne Goldberg.
Goldberg, a well-known internet troll, has been accused of posting online as an Australian supporter of the ISIS militant group who calls for attacks to be carried out on Western targets under the alias of "AusWitness."
He was jailed for giving out information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, the department said, adding that if convicted Goldberg could face a penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
An informant said he lived near Kansas City when Goldberg instructed them to place a bomb at an upcoming memorial in Kansas City that was commemorating 9/11.
Goldberg had a number of conversations with the informant through Twitter accounts AusWitness and AusSecret. In a number of conversations, Goldberg instructed others on how to make explosives.
The IP address of the computer associated with the email and Twitter accounts came from his mother's computer in Orange Park near Jacksonville, Florida.
A picture he shared online showed him apparently making an explosive with "2 lbs of gunpowder inside."
A witness from Australia has identified Goldberg as an "online troll" using identities of other people online, including the identity of Australian lawyer Josh Bornstein, under whose name he had an inflammatory article published in the Times of Israel in which he called for Palestinians to be exterminated.
The Times of Israel later retracted the article after Bornstein denied he had written it.
Link to Texas incident
Special agent William Berry of US Customs and Border Protection said Goldberg had at first denied the allegations when he was arrested, but later confessed to them.
"Goldberg further admitted that he believed the information would create a genuine bomb," Berry said, adding that Goldberg claimed he was planning to provide a tip-off to the security services in order to prevent such an attack from actually happening.
According to Fairfax media, Goldberg said he didn’t expect anyone to actually carry out the attacks.
However, Goldberg had previously encouraged Muslims area to attend an exhibition of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas, in May to turn up to the event with weapons. Two Muslim men who actually did turn up with weapons were shot dead by police at the event.
In another tweet, Goldberg called on Muslims to attack Australian cartoonist Larry Pickering after he drew a picture ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.
While it is unclear as to whether or not Goldberg was acting alone, his recruitment methods are typical of tactics regularly used by informants working for secret services to set up and inevitably capture criminals.
American Muslims have particularly complained that their community is being targeted by informants who seek to exploit those who are vulnerable to get caught up in terror plots orchestrated by the intelligence services.
Darren Griffin, a former member of the US Army Special Forces, had pretended to convert to Islam after the 9/11 attacks. Based in the state of Ohio, Griffin posed as a recruiter and targeted a number of Muslims in the Toledo area, feeding information to the FBI.
His efforts resulted in three young Muslims - Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi and Wassim I. Mazloum - being sentenced in prison for eight to 20 years.
Craig Monteilh, a convicted criminal, explained to Al Jazeera in a documentary called “Informants” published in 2014 how he was hired by the FBI to pose as a Muslim convert and incriminate a local imam in California, Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, after the Fazaga challenged claims made by the FBI in a town hall meeting.
Although Monteilh failed to do this, the FBI later launched immigration charges against an Afghan member of Fazaga’s mosque who had reported Monteilh to the authorities after he became concerned about his behaviour.
A report published by the Intercept in March 2015 also highlighted how the FBI exploited Sami Osmakac, a young American originally from Kosovo who in early 2014 was convicted for plotting to carry out attacks in Tampa, Florida.
Osmakac, who was diagnosed by a psychologist as having a schizoaffective disorder, was set up by FBI informant Abdul Raouf Dabus and an undercover agent identified as “Amir Jones,” who provided Osmakac with weapons to carry out his plans.
The whereabouts of a Muslim convert Osmakac had met at a local mosque in December 2009, Russell Dennison, who was accused by Osmakac’s family of being a government agent because he introduced him to Dabus, is also a mystery.
Furthermore, an interview released by the BBC in March with former Al Qaeda operative-turned-British spy Aimen Dean, revealed how Dean also recruited young Muslim in the UK into militant groups while he was working for the MI5 and MI6 British intelligence services.