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Man charged in plot to use pressure cooker bomb at 9/11 memorial in Missouri

A Florida man posed online as an Australia resident and tried to help plan an attack on a 9/11 memorial in Missouri by providing details on how to build a bomb with a pressure cooker and rat poison, according to law enforcement authorities.

Joshua Ryne Goldberg, 20, was arrested Thursday and charged with distributing information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Goldberg -- of Orange Park, about 15 miles south of Jacksonville -- began communicating online with an undercover FBI agent in July, giving information on how to build a bomb, according to a criminal complaint. Goldberg instructed the agent to place the bomb at a memorial in Kansas City, Mo., commemorating the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the complaint said.

The case began earlier this year, when the agent traced online messages being used to claim responsibility for helping inspire terrorist attacks in Texas and Australia to an account in Orange Park, according to the complaint.

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“What weapons do you have brother? I can send you guides on how to make bombs if you need help making them,” said one message from an account that the complaint alleges was linked to Goldberg.

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Goldberg sent bomb-making guides to the informant Aug. 19, according to the message traffic.

The next day, according to the agent, Goldberg contacted him again asking what kind of attack he wanted to carry out on Sept. 11. “I was thinking a bombing,” the message reads, according to the complaint.

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The agent told Goldberg, using the online alias “AusWitness,” that he was a student living near Kansas City.

Goldberg claimed to be living in Perth, Australia, and said that he thought a pressure cooker bomb would be the best option and identified a 9/11 memorial event in Kansas City as a target, according to the messages in the complaint.

Australian Federal Police confirmed that they were contacted in relation to the investigation by the FBI. In a statement, the AFP said Goldberg will be charged with providing information online in an attempt to facilitate and encourage terrorist acts in Australia.

Two federal public defenders appointed to represent Goldberg did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. A judge set a Tuesday bail hearing in the case.

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According to Australian police, authorities there said they interviewed a witness who said Goldberg’s online personas were part of a hoax and that the Florida man is actually a “proponent of radical free speech.”

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