Joshua Ryne Goldberg was a 20-year-old Jewish man living with his parents in an unassuming Florida home, but online be became “Australi Witness,” an ISIS supporter who called for militants to carry out terrorist attacks against western nations and even planned an attack on a 9/11 memorial in Kansas City.
Goldberg was arrested this week after a joint investigation from American and Australian officials, charged with distributing information relating to explosives and weapons of mass destruction. Goldberg had posted pictures of a bomb he was working on, one that he claimed had two pounds of explosives inside.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force said Joshua Ryne Goldberg planned to set off an explosion at a 9/11 event in Kansas City, CBS News noted.
Investigators said Joshua Ryne Goldberg’s online persona as an ISIS jihadist became real when he communicated with someone be believed was sympathetic to the cause, but was actually an FBI informant. Goldberg instructed the person on how to make a bomb, which had a design similar to the one used in the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Put as much sharp stuff as you can in there,” Goldberg allegedly wrote, telling the person to “use shards of metal and nails.”
It is unclear if Joshua Ryne Goldberg planned to go through with the attack. The criminal complaint, obtained by KCTV, noted that he planned either to kill himself or alert police about the potential attack just before the bomb was detonated, giving himself credit for thwarting the attack.
“He was a lost soul willing to engage in terrorist activities to fulfill his needs of feeling important,” said retired FBI agent Michael Tabman after reviewing the 34-page complaint.
Family members were shocked to learn the allegations against Goldberg.
“We have no information to give you,” his father, Frank, told First Coast News. “I don’t mind talking to you at a later time about what happened.”
Goldberg had been on the FBI’s radar for weeks, starting with his taking credit for the May 3 attack in Garland, Texas, on the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest. Two gunmen wearing body armor opened fire on police and security there before they were shot and killed.
A Twitter account operated by Joshua Ryne Goldberg had posted messages calling for an attack and even posting a map of the center where the event was held. One the day of the attack, Goldberg posted a message reading, “I’M BACK KUFFAR! DIE IN YOUR RAGE!” One of the alleged attackers re-tweeted his message shortly before carrying out the attack.
[Image via Joshua Goldberg]