Thanks to the efforts of FBI Agents in Kansas City, Missouri this last weekend, mourners at the 9/11 memorial service there were able to safely honor the dead without a follow up attack striking closer to home than they could have ever expected.
20-year-old Joshua Goldberg, a resident of nearby Orange Park, Missouri, claimed a measure of responsibility and involvement in a number of different terrorist attacks that occurred recently. Goldberg bragged on social media that he had inspired an attack that occurred in Garland, Texas that led to two deaths.
Goldberg’s online presence attracted the attention of FBI agents in the area and he was put under surveillance. According to former agent and current professor at the University of North Carolina, Ellen Glasser, people like Glasser are changing the ways that the FBI monitors and identifies potential terrorist activity.
In Goldberg’s case, it was not difficult to see what his intentions were as he openly stated that he was, “hoping for jihad on the anniversary of 9/11,” and he is not the only one speaking so brazenly.
“Many of these perpetrators are very open online in terms of their rhetoric, and in this particular case there were a lot of buzz words in the chatter he was using on Twitter,” said Glasser. As a result, the FBI is able to monitor social media for certain buzz words related to terrorist activity that can allow them to zero in on someone like Goldberg before they can cause any harm.
An FBI informant contacted Goldberg, posing as a potential collaborator, and Goldberg plotted with him to bomb an event in Kansas City using a pressure cooker bomb similar to the one used in the Boston Marathon bombings. The FBI was able to arrest him based on this information.
Goldberg’s brazen behavior on Twitter earned him the FBI attention that eventually led to his arrest. Hopefully, the FBI will be able to continue using social media as a means of keeping tabs on less than savvy terrorists and develop ways of better identifying potential terrorists.