Federal prosecutors in New York accused a U.S. soldier of giving sensitive information on U.S. troop movements to a satanic white-supremacist group as part of a criminal conspiracy to murder U.S. military service members and provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
According to an indictment released Monday, Private Ethan Phelan Melzer provided “confidential U.S. Army information” to an infamous organization known as the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A), a British occult Nazi group whose works have been promoted by white-supremacist militia Atomwaffen and which has expressed support for al Qaeda. Melzer’s contacts within O9A described their plans as “literally organizing a jihadi attack.”
Prosecutors say that Melzer shared information about his Army unit’s “location, movements, and security” with the satanic neo-Nazi group because he was allegedly planning an ambush attack on his fellow soldiers alongside O9A.
The indictment alleges that Melzer messaged members of O9A in mid-May through the “RapeWaffen” channel on the encrypted Telegram messaging app and sent them sensitive information about his unit’s upcoming deployment to Turkey, where they were preparing to guard U.S. military facilities. According to the indictment, one of Melzer’s interlocutors has been an FBI informant since last month.
Specifically, according to Faye Stephen, an Air Force officer tasked to the FBI, the plot Melzer is alleged to have discussed involved concocting an attack by local jihadist militants on his own unit. Melzer told an FBI informant to tell “anyone” they know in Turkey, “there is a convoy coming through Turkey soon and date and time will be given soon,” federal prosecutors said.
It did not appear from Monday’s court papers that more detailed planning had occurred. The documents showed that a magistrate judge issued a warrant for Melzer’s online accounts on May 30.
The recovered messages allegedly show that Melzer told members of the group that he was “risking [his] literal free life” to send the information for an attack which he expected to trigger a “new war” and result in mass casualties. Prosecutors say Melzer accepted the possibility that he could die in the attack on his unit because causing “another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark.”
Melzer allegedly confessed to his role in the conspiracy during an interview with law enforcement on May 30, and prosecutors say he “declared himself to be a traitor against the United States whose conduct was tantamount to treason.”
If true, it’s the latest example of white-supremacist reach within the U.S. military. But it’s the first alleged example of service members acting in a tactical intelligence capacity for a white supremacist organization.
Previous cases have concerned military veterans joining white-supremacist outfits for combat. Last month, three current or retired service members were arrested for allegedly plotting so-called Boogaloo violence against civil-rights protesters and government installations. At least seven others have been identified as part of the white-nationalist organization Identity Evropa. A Marine veteran affiliated with the white-supremacist group Patriot Front has provided his co-ideologists with military training.
Last year, an active-duty Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher Hasson, stockpiled an arsenal for a race war; he received a 13-year prison sentence. The closest antecedent to what Melzer is accused of may be Jarrett William Smith, a U.S. soldier who discussed constructing homemade bombs with white supremacists on Facebook. Smith pleaded guilty in February.
Most infamously, a generation before, decorated Desert Storm veteran and white supremacist Timothy McVeigh committed the worst pre-9/11 terrorist attack on U.S. soil when he bombed Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma in April 1995. More recently, a February poll of service members found that more than one in three has encountered white nationalism inside the military.
And in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security suppressed a report by analyst Daryl Johnson, who warned of a rising tide in far-right extremism. Johnson explicitly predicted that “right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities.”
The Order of the Nine Angles or O9A was founded in the U.K. by former neo-Nazi David Myatt in the '70s. Myatt authored a guide for like-minded racist terrorists, "A Practical Guide to The Strategy and Tactics of Revolution," which told followers that they are engaged “in a real war for freedom and for the very future of our race” and listed anti-Nazi activists, “Zionists,” judges, police officers, and government officials as appropriate targets for assassination. British police found a copy of the manual in the home of David Copeland in 1999, after he was arrested for a bombing spree across London intended to spark a race war.
While the group denies the Holocaust and believes, per court papers, that “Adolf Hitler was sent by our gods to guide us to greatness,” the Order’s Satanism has occasionally proven distasteful to its fellow neo-Nazis.
The U.K. anti-racism activist group Hope Not Hate urged the British government to ban O9A as recently as March and cited the recent court cases involving six far-right activists linked to the group.