Jonathan Cole was a former U.S. Army Special Forces operator and also a member of the special operations team with the callsign "Phantom Eight".
He conducted multiple operations with Phantom Eight, but ultimately turned rogue under orders from his commanding officer, Sean Latham.
After being arrested, Cole was later brought back when NCIS used him as a means of finding terrorist, Harper Dearing.
Having learnt that Dearing planned to attack NCIS directly by using a bomb strapped to the car belonging to NCIS Director Leon Vance, Cole attempted to defuse the bomb but failed to do so as the bomb was set off by Dearing seconds later, instantly killing Cole in the process and also triggering the Navy Yard Bombing.
Cole's prior life before joining the U.S. Army is unknown.
At some point, he completed Special Forces training and received his green beret, before being recruited into the Phantom Eight program in 2003 where Cole worked under Sean Latham along with Gayne Levin, Felix Wright, and four other operators.
Cole eventually went rogue, along with Latham as the two killed their former comrades before stealing and selling the stolen microchips taken from the bodies to international bidders with the chips being skeleton keys capable of unlocking any electronic lock in the entire world.
NCIS Season 9
At some point, presumably after the Port-to-Port killing case had been solved, Latham, friends with newly appointed SECNAV Clayton Jarvis leaked information stating that Special Agent Simon Cade was a traitor while Erica Jane Barrett secretly began investigating herself, having removed the microchip from Lavin's arm after Lavin had died after being shot by the killer, Navy Lieutenant Jonas Cobb.
Jarvis took matters into his own hands and tasked NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo with capturing or killing Cade while Latham used the events to his advantage and tasked Cole with killing the three NCIS agents.
Cole responded by hacking the phones in question and luring all three to an alleyway for a meeting.
When they all got there, Cole struck, his shots injuring DiNozzo who hit the ground and was left unconscious by the fall while Cade wasn't so fortunate and died instantly after being shot with Barrett being the only one of the three to be uninjured thanks to the bullet-proof vest she had been wearing.
In the aftermath, Cole retrieved Latin's chip and later gave it to Latham who sold it to some international bidders on the black market.
Cole then switched the ammo of DiNozzo's gun and planted Cade's blood-stained badge on DiNozzo's body to make it look like DiNozzo had killed Cade in cold blood, Cole having known all along of DiNozzo's supposedly secret mission to find and kill Cade for stealing the tracking chips and selling them on the black market.
Knowing that DiNozzo had survived, Cole disguised himself as an FBI Special Agent named Casey Stratton (alias) so that he could use the fake identity to sneak into the hospital and kill DiNozzo.
DiNozzo's brief glimpse of Cole/Stratton allowed DiNozzo to regain his memory where he finally revealed that Stratton had been the one who had shot at himself, Cade and EJ with the investigation hitting a dead end when the FBI revealed that they had no such agent known as "Stratton" working for them.
Hours later, Cole returned to the Watcher hideout where he and Latham started the bidding process of the Phantom Eight chips (with countries such as Korea and various Arab states acting as the bidders).
Cole then spent a year tracking EJ and finally chased her down to New Jersey where he tasked a former Navy SEAL, Captain Dane Marseilles with killing EJ for good but Marseilles failed due to the fact that EJ's body armor had stopped Marseilles's bullet from hitting her.
Enraged at the failure, Cole used Marseilles's phone signal to get NCIS's attention before he stabbed the SEAL to death. Cole then threw Marseilles's body out of his apartment where it landed on the ground below and knowing that NCIS would arrive, Cole fled, hiding in the background where he saw Gibbs and Agents Ziva David and Timothy McGee arrive at the scene.
Gibbs later realized that Cole and Latham were working together and confronted Jarvis with the hard-hitting evidence which left Jarvis stunned. The next morning, with Gibbs in attendance, Jarvis and Latham held a meeting where Latham revealed the truth about Cole to the men with Jarvis ordering Latham to bring Cole in.
A while later in a local park, Cole and Latham met with Latham telling Cole of what was going on before ordering Cole to leave the country. Cole refused and responded by stabbing Latham, fatally wounding the other man before Cole left to walk a dog while leaving Latham to bleed to death on a park bench.
The next day, Cole went to destroy the safehouse that he believed EJ and Tony were hiding in and succeeded although he got into a fierce gunfight with Gibbs, McGee and Ziva who had descended on the park to confront Cole once and for all. Cole attempted to flee, only to walk straight into a trap that NCIS had arranged for him with a FBI tactical unit assists them, presumably due to the FBI's anger at Cole for pretending as one of their agents.
It was also revealed that Jarvis had given Latham the wrong safehouse location and as such, Tony and EJ were spared while Cole was later cuffed and taken back to NCIS where during an interrogation, he defended the Phantom Eight program along with his role before revealing that he knew that of Gibbs's direct involvement in the murder of drug dealer Pedro Hernandez nearly twenty years ago while stating that if he was sent to prison, then Gibbs would hang beside him with Cole's own fate not being revealed.
As NCIS recovered from the disastrous fallout, they soon learnt that Cole was also indirectly responsible for the theft of the Aquamarine documents as well as the death of fellow Phantom Eight member Carter Plimpton and the current arson-terrorism against the United States fleet.
Cole returned in the Season 9 finale episode, Till Death Do Us Part (episode). He was first seen being brought into NCIS much to Tony, Ziva, McGee, and Palmer's shock, as he smiled at them.
He was apparently the one who had sold Harper Dearing the Watcher Fleet microchip helping Dearing with the terrorist attacks on U.S. navy ships. Gibbs feels Cole would be an ideal operative to get close to Dearing and offers Cole to assist NCIS with Dearing in exchange for a (slightly) reduced sentence, with Cole agreeing to Gibbs' terms. He turns double-agent and helped NCIS with tracking down Dearing, by being released from prison and putting the tri-state area on high alert, grabbing Dearing's attention.
Dearing then set up a meeting with Cole at a cafe where retired Navy officers rest, but did not meet him in person; rather, he dropped off a cell phone to Cole to relay a message to Gibbs, which states that Dearing was never interested in Vance and that he is only interested in justice.
Gibbs's team tracked down Dearing's location using the call, and realized that Dearing was nearby and soon came to the conclusion that he had planted a bomb on Vance's car. Cole was an expert at bomb disposal so he offered his help to Gibbs to attempt to defuse the bomb which Gibbs accepted due to the fact that the Bomb Squad would arrive too late to defuse the bomb.
- "It's not the danger. It's the fun."
- —Cole's final words to Gibbs.
After searching Vance's car, Gibbs and Cole finally located the bomb, which was wired to a cell phone. Realizing the danger, Cole urges Gibbs to leave Cole to deal with the bomb and evacuate Abby as they are running out of time.
Gibbs then offered Cole his army knife and ran back to evacuate Abby, and Cole prepared to defuse the bomb but at that moment, Dearing made the call, causing the bomb to go off which severely damaged the buildings in the NCIS Navy Yard while also killing Cole in the process.
Cole was a patriot who believed that he was doing the right thing, especially when it came to targeting and killing those who were a potential risk or at risk of exposing the Watcher Project.
He was also supremely arrogant and had no qualms about betraying anyone who he worked for which was shown when he brutally stabbed Sean Latham to death.
In spite of his crimes and while also having the blood of an NCIS Special Agent as well as many former and current Naval personnel on his hands, Cole chose to put himself on the front line, attempting to defuse a bomb that terrorist Harper Dearing had planted in the car of NCIS Director Leon Vance and despite dying in the process, presumably ultimately redeemed himself in Gibbs's eyes.
Hand to Hand Combat
- Captain Felix Wright- (shot dead).
- Special Agent Simon Cade- (shot dead).
- Captain Marcelles Dane- (stabbed and thrown off high story building).
- Sean Latham- (stabbed).
- James Barnsway- (shot by Marcelles Dane).
- Carter Plimpton- (was killed by Harper Dearing via arsonist-for-hire Bruce Johnson to get the Project Aquamarine file, which Dearing knew about thanks to his receiving the Gavin Levine watcher microchip that he and Latham auctioned online).