The Department of Justice on Monday unsealed an indictment of a U.S. Army soldier who allegedly helped a neo-Nazi group plan a deadly ambush on his fellow service members.
U.S. Army Private Ethan Melzer, 22, of Louisville Kentucky, joined the Army in 2018 and was recruited by the neo-Nazi group Order of Nine Angels, or O9A, around 2019, the indictment claims.
Between 2019 and May 2020, Melzer is alleged to have passed sensitive information about the deployments and locations of members of his unit, as well as the strength and armaments of his base in Europe, to O9A, which investigators say espouses “neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and Satanic beliefs,” and has “expressed admiration for both Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler, and Islamic jihadists, such as Osama Bin Laden.”
The indictment also claims Melzer consumed propaganda from the Islamic terror group ISIS based on an ISIS-issued document called “Harvest of Soldiers” found on an iCloud account he maintained.
In encrypted messages, Melzer pledged his allegiance to O9A, saying his training could be useful to them, and expressed a desire to sacrifice his life for a “mass casualty” attack that he hoped would result in a “new war.”
According to the indictment, Melzer confessed to plotting the attack to FBI investigators, admitted that his goal was to kill as many of his fellow service members as possible and “declared himself to be a traitor against the United States whose conduct was tantamount to treason.”
White supremacy has been on the rise in recent years, leading to a number of violent incidents, including a clash in Charlottesville in 2017 between white supremacists and left-wing counter-demonstrators that resulted in 36 casualties and three deaths. There have been several mass shootings connected to white supremacists, including one at a supermarket in El Paso in 2019 that killed 23 people. More recently, a members of the right-wing, anti-police Boogaloo Movement have allegedly been taking advantage of civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s death to commit at least two deadly attacks on security and law enforcement personnel, with intelligence analysts growing increasingly concerned about an attack on the nation’s capital, according to Politico’s Natasha Bertrand.
“Ethan Melzer, a private in the U.S. Army, was the enemy within,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss. “Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal. Thanks to the efforts of the agents and detectives of the [Joint Terrorism Task Force], our partners in the Departments of Defense and State, and the career prosecutors of this Office, a hate-fueled terrorist attack against American soldiers has been thwarted.”
What To Look For
The indictment charges Melzer with conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring to murder U.S. military service members, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country, each of which carry maximum sentences of life in prison. He has also been charged with attempting to murder U.S. nationals and U.S. military members, which each carry maximum 20-year prison sentences.