WASHINGTON – A U.S. Army soldier passed on sensitive information to a white supremacy group to orchestrate a deadly attack on his unit overseas, the Justice Department said in an indictment unsealed Monday.
Federal prosecutors alleged that Ethan Melzer, using encrypted applications, sent messages to members of a neo-Nazi group called Order of the Nine Angles or O9A shortly after learning of his unit's deployment overseas. Melzer leaked information about the unit's location, movements, security and the number of soldiers to facilitate what he and his co-conspirators referred to as a "jihadi attack," prosecutors alleged.
Melzer said in a chat group last month that he's risking his "free life" by disclosing information and that he's "expecting results," according to the indictment. He also said the attack would cause a "new war." In another exchange, he acknowledged he could be killed during the attack.
"I would've died successfully," Melzer said, according to the indictment. Causing "another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark."
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Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Ky., has been charged with 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.
It was not immediately clear if he has a lawyer.
Melzer joined the Army in 2018 and joined O9A the following year, authorities said. The group espouses anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs and idolizes Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. Melzer was deployed overseas in 2019.
The FBI thwarted the plot in late May. Melzer was arrested in June, authorities said.
Melzer confessed to his role in the plot during an interview with the FBI. Authorities said he admitted that he intended for the attack to be as deadly as possible and declared himself a traitor against the United States.
Investigators also found propaganda disseminated by O9A and the Islamic State or ISIS. One document, which was seized from Melzer's iCloud account described attacks on U.S. soldiers. The title included the phrase "HARVEST OF THE SOLDIERS."
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said Melzer plotted a deadly ambush "in the service of a diabolical cocktail of ideologies of hate and violence."
"As alleged, Ethan Melzer, a private in the U.S. Army, was the enemy within ... Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out his ultimate act of betrayal," said Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where Melzer was indicted.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ethan Melzer: Army soldier accused of plotting with neo-Nazi group