A US Army soldier allegedly gave sensitive and classified information to a Satanic neo-Nazi group, hoping to help the extremist group carry out an attack on his own unit, federal prosecutors said Monday.
"Ethan Melzer, a private in the U.S. Army, was the enemy within," Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement. "As alleged, Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal."
The soldier allegedly provided the group with his unit's location, strength, travel routes, and weaponry, prosecutors alleged, with the plan that the white supremacist group would share that information with jihadist terrorists and kick off a new war in the Middle East.
Melzer joined the US Army in 2018, and a year later, he allegedly joined an extremist group known as Order of the Nine Angles, or O9A. Members of the white supremacist group have, according to federal prosecutors, "espoused violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and Satanic [beliefs], and have expressed admiration for both Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler, and Islamic jihadists, such as Usama Bin Laden."
When the 22-year-old soldier was told in April 2020 that he would be deployed to Turkey, he allegedly started to help plan an attack on his unit, using an encrypted app to communicate with members of O9A known as the "RapeWaffen Division."
"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 John C. Demers said.
The group, investigators claim in court documents, has expressed belief in the "inequality of races," that Hitler was "sent by our gods to guide us to greatness," and that the Holocaust was a lie.
O9A has also praised the Nazis for the "practical expression of the Satanic spirit," and held that the world has become "perverted by, among other things, Judeo-Christian beliefs," leading members of the group to plot an overthrow of Western civilization.
The goal of Melzer and the people he messaged was to instigate a "jihadi attack" during his deployment, killing his fellow service members, prosecutors said.
By May, Melzer allegedly had passed on information such as surveillance, security, and defense capabilities of the facility where he was deployed to an alleged member of al-Qaida.
In encrypted messages, prosecutors said, Melzer wrote that he believed the attack would cause a new war because of the number of deaths.
Melzer allegedly acknowledged that he could be killed in the attack as well, but he told members of the extremist group: "who gives a fuck."
"I would've died successfully," he allegedly said in a message, according to court documents, explaining that "another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark."
Prosecutors said Melzer had also been keeping tabs on other members of the military who were recently arrested for allegedly plotting attacks and linked to white supremacist groups.
"Don't want to end up like that faggot from who got caught while he was in the military," he allegedly wrote the group in April. "Bad shit."
He allegedly promised to send over more information, but before he could, he was interviewed by FBI agents and military investigators.
During the interview, prosecutors say he declared himself a traitor to the US and admitted to his role in the plot.
"He turned his back on his country and his unit while aligning himself with members of the neo-Nazi group O9A," FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney Jr. said.
The soldier, who is from Louisville, Kentucky, was charged with conspiring to murder US nationals, attempting to murder US nationals, and conspiring to murder US military service members, as well as attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country, among other federal charges.
If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.