A U.S. Army soldier is facing terrorism charges for allegedly colluding with a dangerous neo-Nazi network and plotting a “deadly ambush” on his own unit.
Pvt. Ethan Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, enlisted in the military in 2018 and a year later allegedly joined the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A), a Satanic, neo-Nazi group with international ties including to Atomwaffen, a violent “accelerationist” group based in the U.S. Military policy prohibits service members from participating in extremist groups or hate groups, but the Pentagon has been repeatedly accused of failing to weed out dangerous radicals from its ranks.
In October 2019, Melzer deployed to Italy. Before he left, prosecutors say, he consumed propaganda from various extremist groups, including ISIS and O9A. When the FBI later searched Melzer’s iCloud account, they allegedly discovered an “ISIS-issued document with the title that included the phrase “Harvest of the Soldiers.” The document described attacks and murders of U.S. military personnel in April 2020.
The fact that Melzer looked to both neo-Nazi and jihadi groups for inspiration is more evidence that the two terroristic ideologies and their apocalyptic visions are actually quite closely intertwined.
In April of this year, the military informed Melzer and his unit that they were moving to Turkey, where they’d guard a U.S. facility. Federal prosecutors say Melzer shared information about the anticipated move to Turkey with members of O9A, and an affiliated group called RapeWaffen Division. The prosecutors don’t say explicitly what messaging app Melzer used, but VICE News has previously reported that RapeWaffen Division has a presence on the Telegram app. According to the complaint, Melzer shared this information with the goal of facilitating an attack on his fellow servicemen and women.
Melzer said that he was willing to risk his life and be killed during the attack. “Who gives a fuck,” Melzer wrote, allegedly. “It would be another war… I would’ve died successfully.”
Federal prosecutors say he also communicated about the upcoming deployment to Turkey with someone purporting to be a member of al Qaeda.
“As alleged, Ethan Melzer, a private in the U.S. Army, was the enemy within,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. “Melzer allegedly attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush on his own unit by unlawfully revealing its location, strength, and armaments to a neo-Nazi, anarchist, white supremacist group. “
Melzer is facing serious charges including conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, attempting to murder U.S. nationals, and conspiring to murder U.S. service members. He’s also been charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists (presumably stemming from his alleged interaction with a member of al Qaeda, because O9A is currently not designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. government). Some of the more serious charges carry a possible penalty of life in prison.
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