A United States Army private is facing federal terrorism-related charges after reportedly confessing to a plot of work with an extremist neo-Nazi group to attack his own military unit.
Ethan Melzer, a 22-year-old from Kentucky, was arrested by federal agents on charges of conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. nationals; conspiring and attempting to murder military service members; providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists; and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country. Melzer was interviewed in late May and arrested on June 10, but the criminal complaint and indictment weren’t unsealed until Monday.
Federal authorities said Melzer worked with the Order of the Nine Angles, also known as O9A, which they described as “an occult-based neo-Nazi and racially motivated violent extremist group.”
Melzer joined the Army in 2018 and the O9A around 2019, according to the feds. They said he “consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups,” including ISIS, and found that Melzer’s iCloud account had an “ISIS-issued document with a title that included the phrase ‘HARVEST OF THE SOLDIERS’ and described attacks and murders of U.S. personnel.”
Melzer fed information about his deployment to someone he believed would use it to attack his unit in Turkey, and said he didn’t give “a fuck” about getting shot in an attack.
“It would be another war ... I would’ve died successfully ... Cause if another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark,” he allegedly wrote on May 17.
Melzer, according to an FBI affidavit, later confessed he was “prepared to die to facilitate an attack on the Unit, believed his actions were treasonous, and considered himself to be a traitor.”
Federal terrorism charges against white supremacists are rare, because federal terrorism laws broadly criminalize behavior that supports designated foreign terrorist organizations like ISIS but not domestic extremist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, which enjoy First Amendment protections. While some specific types of terrorist activities are specifically banned by federal law, some common types of terrorist attacks aren’t covered by federal terrorism laws unless they are motivated by “foreign” ideologies.
The U.S. military has struggled to investigate members of extremist white nationalist organizations within its ranks, as HuffPost has previously reported. Earlier this year, a white nationalist Coast Guard lieutenant was sentenced to 13 years on weapons charges after federal prosecutors say he planned a domestic terrorist attack.