Orange Park man, 20, indicted in 9/11 memorial bomb plot

New details on alleged bomb plot suspect

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 20-year-old Clay County man has been arrested on federal charges surrounding a bomb plot targeting upcoming 9/11 memorial ceremonies in Kansas City, Mo., according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Joshua Ryne Goldberg, 20, of Orange Park, is charged with distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices, and weapons of mass destruction, according to a criminal complaint.

He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Reached at home, Goldberg's father, Frank, told First Coast News he was "shocked" by the allegations against his son, but declined to make any further comments.

"We have no information to give you," he said. "I don't mind talking to you at a later time about what happened."

Between July and September, Goldberg had been in contact online with an individual, who -- unbeknownst to Goldberg -- was actually an informant. Goldberg had allegedly provided the individual with details on how to construct a bomb and instructed him to fashion a pressure cooker bomb and fill it with nails, metal and other shrapnel dipped in rat poison.

According to the complaint, Goldberg directed the individual to carry out a bombing at a memorial in Kansas City, Mo. commemorating the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Goldberg surfaced on the FBI's radar after he took credit for inspiring the May 3 attack in Garland, Texas on the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest. That's where two gunmen -- later identified as Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi -- wearing body armor and carrying rifles opened fire on a police officer and security officer before they were shot and killed by police.

Ahead of that attack, Goldberg's Twitter account -- Australi Witness -- posted tweets calling for an attack on the art show, posting a map of the Curtis Culwell Center where the show was staged and urging anyone nearby to attack "with your weapons, bombs and knives," the complaint said.

The day of the attack, Twitter user @AusWitness 3 tweeted, "I'M BACK KUFFAR! DIE IN YOUR RAGE!" On the morning of the attack, Simpson's account -- Shariah is Light -- retweeted that message.

The FBI in July told an informant to contact the social media user calling himself "Australi Witness" and "AusWitness," who had posted messages on pro-Islamic State websites, purporting to be a Lebanese refugee living in Australia. The user turned out to be Goldberg, who was actually living with his parents at their home on Pine Road in Orange Park, the complaint said.

In a conversation Aug. 17, Goldberg told the informant, "Hopefully there will be some jihad on the anniversary of 9/11." Days later, when the source volunteered to take part in an attack, Goldberg allegedly provided him with detailed plans to manufacture explosives, specifically pipe bombs and a pressure cooker bomb.

The instructions, the FBI reports, were "accurate."

On Aug. 20, Goldberg elaborated. "Have you decided what kind of attack you want to carry out on 9/11, akhi? I was thinking a bombing. ... We could make pipe bombs and detonate them at a large public event... It needs to be big," he's quoted as saying in the indictment.

Later, Goldberg lobbied instead for the informant to manufacture a bomb out of a pressure cooker, akin to the device used in the Boston Marathon bombing, the complaint said. He allegedly suggested his contact fill the device with shrapnel and poison to inflict maximum damage, saying his contact should use "shards of metal and nails. ... Broken glass would probably work too. Just put as much sharp stuff as you can in there."

"If you can, dip the screws and other shrapnel in rat poison before putting them in. That way, the kuffar who get hit by them will be more likely to die," Goldberg told the informant.

He also picked out a location to stage the attack, a stair climbing event on Sept. 13 in Kansas City in which firefighters and first responders mourn and honor those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, calling it "the perfect place," according to the complaint. He selected the event because it would attract the largest number of people on the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack; even though the event was set for two days later.

At some point in the discussion, Goldberg allegedly told his contact, "...Get FAR away from the bomb, brother. There's going to be chaos when it goes off. Shrapnel, blood, and panicking Kuffar will be everywhere."

Agents raided Goldberg's home Wednesday. While speaking with investigators, he allegedly acknowledged using social media to call for attacks in Garland, Texas and providing an associate with instructions on how to produce a pressure cooker bomb.

A preliminary and detention hearing is scheduled for Goldberg on Sep. 15 at 2:00 p.m. at the Federal court building in downtown Jacksonville, according to a court motion. Goldberg will be in the custody of U.S. Marshals at the time of his hearing.

Goldberg is currently being held in Baker County Jail, according to law enforcement officials.

First Coast News is reviewing the 30-page indictment. We'll update this developing story as we learn more.

Read the indictment:

Relevant court documents:

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