The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has arrested and indicted a U.S. Army soldier, who had given up the details of his units upcoming deployment to members of a Satanic Neo-Nazi group in order to help lure his fellow soldiers into a deadly ambush.
On Monday afternoon, the DOJ provided a press release detailing the case and the charges against Pvt. Ethan Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Ky. Melzer is charged with conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring and attempting to murder military service members, providing material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country.
The DOJ press release notes Melzer was sending sensitive details about his unit – including information about the location of an upcoming deployment location, movements, and security – to an extremist group known as the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A). The DOJ indicated the group is known to be involved in occult studies and to espouse violent neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and Satanic beliefs.
O9A has expressed admiration for both the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and for Islamic jihadists, such as Osama Bin Laden, according to the DOJ.
“As the indictment lays out, Ethan Melzer plotted a deadly ambush on his fellow soldiers in the service of a diabolical cocktail of ideologies laced with hate and violence,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said of the case.
Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, described Melzer as “the enemy within.”
The DOJ release states Melzer joined the Army in 2018 and then joined the O9A in 2019. In October 2019, Melzer deployed abroad with his unit. In April 2020, Melzer’s unit was informed of plans for an extended foreign deployment.
Prior to planning his attack, Melzer is alleged to have consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups, including O9A and ISIS. In particular, the FBI obtained access to Melzer’s iCloud account where they found an ISIS-issued document whose title includes the phrase “Harvest of the Soldiers” and describes attacks on U.S. personnel.
After Melzer was informed of the new deployment he used an encrypted messaging application to contact members of the O9A and a related group known as the “RapeWaffen Division.” Melzer discussed carrying out the attacks. Melzer acknowledged the likelihood that he might die in the very ambush he is alleged to have helped plan but said “I would’ve died successfully” and said, “another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark.”
On or about May 17, 2020, Melzer also exchanged communications with a purported member of the Al Qaeda terror group.
The DOJ release stated the FBI and the U.S. Army thwarted Melzer’s plans in late May and that he was arrested on June 10.
The DOJ release further states that during a voluntary interview with the FBI, Melzer his role in plotting the attack. He further admitted his goal was to cause the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible. The DOJ states Melzer “declared himself to be a traitor against the United States, and described his conduct as tantamount to treason.”