US Army soldier pleads guilty to attempting to murder fellow service members in deadly ambush

US Army Private Ethan Melzer sent sensitive US military information to members of a white supremacist group in an attempt to facilitate a deadly jihadist attack on his army unit

June 24, 2022 – Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ETHAN PHELAN MELZER, aka “Etil Reggad”, has pleaded guilty to attempting to assassinate U.S. service members, provide and attempt to provide material support to terrorists, and illegally transmit national defense information. MELZER planned a jihadist attack on his US Army unit in the days leading up to a deployment to Turkey and sent sensitive details about the unit, including information about its location, movements and security, to the members of the extremist organization Order of the Nine Angles. (“O9A”), an occult, neo-Nazi and white supremacist group. MELZER pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods.

US Attorney Damian Williams said: ‘As he admitted in court today, Ethan Melzer attempted to orchestrate a deadly ambush against his own unit by unlawfully disclosing his location, strength and armaments to a neo-Nazi, anarchist and white supremacist group. The defendant believed he could force the United States into a protracted armed conflict while causing the deaths of as many soldiers as possible. MELZER’s treacherous conduct was a betrayal of his legendary unit and nothing less than an attack on the most essential American values. Thanks to the incredible work of the FBI and the US military, MELZER’s duplicity was exposed and his murderous attack foiled.

According to the indictment and other documents in the public record, as well as statements made during public hearings in court:

MELZER has been a member of O9A since at least 2017. O9A espouses neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and Satanic beliefs, and promotes extreme violence to hasten and bring about the demise of Western civilization. The group has expressed admiration for both Nazis, like Adolf Hitler, and Islamic jihadists, like Usama Bin Laden, the now deceased former leader of al-Qaeda. Members and associates of O9A have also been involved in acts of violence, including killings. Members of the O9A are tasked with performing “sinister” acts, including “insight roles”, where they attempt to infiltrate various organizations, including the military, to gain training and experience , commit acts of violence, identify like-minded individuals and ultimately subvert them. interior groups.

MELZER joined the US Army circa 2018 in an O9A insight role to infiltrate its ranks and further its goals as an O9A adherent. Circa October 2019, MELZER deployed overseas with the Army to Italy as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. While stationed overseas, MELZER consumed propaganda from several extremist groups, including O9A and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIS. For example, MELZER subscribed to encrypted online forums where he uploaded and viewed videos of jihadist attacks on US troops and facilities and jihadist executions of civilians and soldiers, in addition to propaganda from extreme right, neo-Nazi and other white supremacists.

Around early May 2020, the military informed MELZER that he would be reassigned to a unit scheduled for further overseas deployment, where the unit would guard an isolated and sensitive military installation (the “Military Base”). After being briefed on the assignment, MELZER joined his new unit and underwent weeks of training, including classified and unclassified briefings, to prepare for deployment. As part of this intensive training, MELZER learned details about the purpose, layout and security of the military base. MELZER and his unit also received extensive training and practice for many threat scenarios at the military base, including how to respond to various scenarios of potential terrorist attacks.

Upon learning of the importance and sensitivity of his upcoming deployment, MELZER immediately began relaying this information to O9A members. MELZER secretly used an encrypted messaging application to propose, defend and plan a deadly attack against his colleagues. MELZER sent messages to members and associates of O9A, and, in particular, to a subgroup of O9A known as the “RapeWaffen Division”, providing details of his unit’s planned deployment, including including troop movements, relevant dates, locations, armaments, topography and security, all in relation to the proposed attack on his unit and military base. MELZER and his co-conspirators used this information to plan what they called a “jihadist attack” in an effort to provoke a “mass casualty” event that resulted in casualties among his military colleagues. For example, after describing the unit’s weaponry while deployed—and providing information consistent with the briefings he had received—MELZER described to his co-conspirators how an attack would “essentially cripple[]» the unit’s “fire crews”.

To further the plan of attack, MELZER and his co-conspirators forwarded these messages to an alleged member of Al-Qaeda. MELZER’s proposed attack evolved as he gathered and distributed additional sensitive information about the deployment. For example, MELZER also promised to release more information once it arrives at the military base – including real-time photographs of the facility and the U.S. Army radio communications frequency and channel – in order to maximize the probability of a successful attack against his unit. or on a replacement unit deployed on the military base.

MELZER told O9A members in its encrypted electronic communications “[y]You just have to understand that right now I’m literally risking my free life to give you all this” and that he was “expecting results”. MELZER further acknowledged that he could be killed during the attack and described his willingness to die for O9A’s goals, writing “who cares [. . .] it would be another war. . . I would have died successfully. . . cause [] another 10 year war in the Middle East would certainly leave a mark. MELZER also acknowledged in his posts that he had suppressed some of the communications regarding the planning of the attack because the conspiracy amounted to treason.

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MELZER, 24, of Louisville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to (1) attempting to murder US military service members, contrary to 18 USC § 1114, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; (2) attempt to provide and provide material support to terrorists, in violation of 18 USC § 2339A, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison; and (3) unlawfully transmit national defense information in the belief that it could be used to harm the United States, in violation of 18 USC § 793(d), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. . MELZER is due to be sentenced by Judge Woods on January 6, 2023 at 10 a.m.

Legal penalties are mandated by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the accused will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the remarkable efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is comprised primarily of FBI agents and New York City Police Department detectives. New York, as well as the FBI Legal Attache’s office. in Rome, Italy, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Judge Advocate African Office Attorneys U.S. Army and 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. Mr. Williams also thanked the Counterterrorism Section and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, as well as the department’s Office of International Affairs, for their assistance. .

This prosecution is being handled by the Bureau’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sam Adelsberg, Matthew J.C. Hellman, and Kimberly J. Ravener are charged with the prosecution, with assistance from trial attorneys Alicia Cook of the Counterterrorism Section and Scott Claffee of the Counterintelligence and Control Section. exports.
Source: DOJ Press Release

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