A US military soldier has been charged with terrorism-related crimes for allegedly planning to “ambush” his unit by passing confidential information to a hidden neo-Nazi group, the Justice Department said Monday. Ethan Melzer, 22, is accused of conspiring and attempting to assassinate US citizens, conspiring and attempting to assassinate members of the military, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country.
The Justice Department said Melzer confessed to having planned the attack “to kill as many of his fellow servicemen as possible.”
Melzer, a soldier, enlisted in the US Army. USA In December 2018, he joined the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A) in 2019, the Justice Department said. The Justice Department described the group’s members as defending “violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and satanic beliefs” and claimed that they have “expressed admiration for the Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler and the Islamic jihadists,” including Osama Bin Laden. Members of the group have participated in acts of violence, including murder.
Audrey Strauss, the US attorney in Manhattan, described Melzer, originally from Louisville, Kentucky, as an “internal enemy.”
“Melzer allegedly attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush in his own unit by illegally revealing his location, strength and weaponry to a neo-Nazi, anarchist and white supremacist group,” Strauss said in a statement.
The Justice Department said that the FBI and the US military “thwarted” Melzer’s plot in late May and that he was arrested on June 10.
According to the Justice Department, Melzer was deployed abroad in October 2019. Before planning the attack, he allegedly consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups, including O9A and ISIS.
In April 2020, Melzer was informed of another deployment by his unit, and then allegedly attempted “to facilitate a deadly attack on his fellow servicemen,” the Justice Department said. After being notified of his deployment, he allegedly used encrypted communications to share with O9A and a related group called “RapeWaffen Division” the location, movements and planned security of his unit. Melzer and his accomplices allegedly planned what they called a “jihadist attack” with the goal of creating a “mass casualty” event.
Around May 17, Melzer allegedly exchanged electronic communications about the transmission of information to a person who he believed was a member of Al Qaeda. Between May 24 and 25, he allegedly shared information about his unit’s planned deployment and promised to share more.
The Order of Nine Angles is based in the United Kingdom, where anti-racism activists and legislators Yvette Clark have tried to ban it as a terrorist organization, BBC News reported.
“The combination of Nazi Satanism, extreme violence and sexual abuse makes it particularly worrying and steps must be taken to prevent them from preparing and radicalizing other people,” Clark said in March.
British group Hope Not Hate says the group was founded in the 1960s.
Andres Triay contributed to this report.