A United States Army private has confessed to conspiring with a UK-based neo-Nazi group to kill fellow American servicemembers stationed in Turkey by handing them classified information about troop movements, federal prosecutors said.
Ethan Phelan Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, is the first of several suspects likely to be arrested and charged with terrorism-related offenses, according to a statement released by the US Attorney’s Offfice in the Southern District of New York.
Federal prosecutors allege that on or around May 23, Melzer used an encrypted messaging app to ‘solicit assistance for a mass casualty attack on his US Army unit once it deployed to Turkey.’
Melzer is alleged to have ‘provided confidential and sensitive information to a user’ of the app about his unit’s size, anticipated travel routes in Turkey, its weaponry, and its defensive capabilities.
Federal prosecutors say Melzer understood that this information would be used to ‘facilitate’ a ‘mass casualty attack’ on the unit.
Melzer is alleged to have used a username, ‘Etil Reggad,’ in his communications with an ‘anarchist, neo-fascist, neo-Nazi, and anti-Semitic’ organization known as the Order of Nine Angles, or O9A.
According to the federal government, O9A has expressed extremist views including one which claims Adolf Hitler ‘was sent by our gods to guide us to greatness’ and that the ‘story of the Jewish ‘holocaust’ is a lie to keep our race in chains and express our desire to see the truth revealed.’
United States military personnel are seen above in Adana, Turkey, in December 2015. A US Army soldier confessed to providing details about his unit’s troop movements and weaponry to extremists who were plotting an attack on American servicemembers in Turkey, federal prosecutors say
Nazi occult group which dreams of creating a ‘Satanic Empire’ through heinous violence
Behind its absurd fantasies of dominating the solar system, lurks a terrifying Nazi-Satanist group which is finding followers across the world.
The Order of Nine Angles, believed to have been founded in the UK in the 1960s, deifies Hitler and the Third Reich.
The Mass of Heresy, which is written in the group’s Black Book of Satan, is spoken before an altar shrouded in a banner of the swastika, with a framed photo of Adolf Hitler and Mein Kampf on top.
The followers chant: ‘We believe Adolf Hitler was sent by our gods to guide us to greatness. We believe in the inequality of the races and in the right of the Aryans to live according to the laws of the folk.’
Their rituals involve the eating of cannabis cakes, drinking wine, sexual acts performed by a priestess and the sacrifice of animals, according to UK-based pressure group Hope Not Hate.
The image above shows the logo for the Order of Nine Angles, or O9A, a UK-based neo-Nazi extremist group that is also believed to be active in the United States
The order’s Black Book is considered so dangerous its three volumes are kept vaulted in a special section of the British Library.
The book asks for the Spring Equinox to celebrated by sacrificing a human being and suggests this could be ‘a Nazarene, such as an interfering investigative journalist.’
The group believes that the world is controlled by a Zionist Occupation Government, an anti-Semitic term used by neo-Nazis during the 1980s to describe Jewish control of the state.
The order aims to subvert society by urging its followers to commit random acts of violence, rapes and to ‘cull’ victims.
There are believed to be ‘Nexions’ (cells) throughout the world amid fears that online trolls are seeking out the most extreme positions possible.
O9A aims to recruit a ‘certain type of rebellious young person’ who is prepared to take action and incite others to commit violence.
The order seeks to surround itself in mystery and make its aims obscure and terrifying to outsiders.
Hope Not Hate described it in a 2019 report as ‘unquestionably the world’s most extreme Nazi Satanist group.’
The government says O9A has also expressed support for the views of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden as well as backing for his organization’s terrorist attacks including the bombing of American embassies in Africa, the attack on the USS Cole, and the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Federal prosecutors said they obtained messages sent by Melzer on his phone in April in which he expressed a desire not to ‘end up’ like a US soldier who was arrested for being affiliated with a neo-Nazi group.
Melzer, who was stationed in Vicenza, Italy, with his unit, is alleged to have communicated with a co-conspirator on or around May 17.
The co-conspirator asked Melzer if the unit had deployed to Turkey because another co-conspirator ‘needs to know’ since he ‘has plans inshallah my brother, allahu akbar.’
‘Allahu akbar’, which is translated from Arabic as ‘God is great,’ is a frequent slogan used by jihadist terrorists.
The co-conspirator then asked Melzer: ‘Are we literally organizing a jihadi attack.’
To which Melzer replied: ‘Yes probably…As long as I get the info I need to give you all.’
The co-conspirator then asked Melzer if he was worried about ‘gett[ing] shot’ in the attack on his unit.
‘Who gives a f***…The after effects of a convoy getting attacked would cover it…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.’
A confidential informant communicated with Melzer on or around May 23.
Melzer messaged the source, asking: ‘I mean if you know some kinder weird Italian groups that would be willing to do something to stir something up I wouldn’t mind.’
To which the source replied: ‘Stir something up with what? I’m confused you said you were in Turkey in the military.’
Melzer replied that he was ‘stationed in Vicenza’ and that he was ‘going to Turkey for a deployment.’
When the confidential source asked Melzer what he meant by ‘stirring up,’ Melzer replied: ‘Ok let me be as direct as possible…IF YOU KNOW ANYONE IN TURKEY TELL THEM THIS INFO there.’
Melzer was then asked what information he was referring to, to which Melzer replied: ‘that you know that there is a convoy coming through Turkey soon and date and time will be given soon. Goddamn.’
The federal government alleges that the ‘convoy’ was Melzer’s unit.
In another text message intercepted by the government, Melzer claimed that he ‘used to be cool with a couple IS members who lived in France’ and that ‘3 of them are dead now and the last 2 I’ve lost contact with lately.’
The federal government alleges that ‘IS’ stands for Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
The confidential source then wrote to Melzer: ‘So for the sake of clarity (and because I’m an idiot so I want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding)—you currently stationed in Vicenza with U.S. army will be deployed to Turkey soon.
‘A ‘convoy’ (your own convoy?) will be going through Turkey, and on Monday you’ll be receiving the date and time the convoy will be going through Turkey.
‘And you’re going to dm me said time and date so that I can pass it along to any jihadis in Turkey. Right?
‘And [redacted] you’re going to do the same with your ‘hajis’ (lol).’
Melzer replied: ‘[y]ou just gotta understand that currently I am risking my literal free life to give you all this.’
He also wrote that he was ‘expecting results.’
When told that arranging an attack on his convoy could jeopardize his life, Melzer wrote: ‘Your kidding right. If we were to trigger this the right way the amount of s*** this would cause would cover it.
‘My life would be absolutely meaningless in the amount of s*** it would cause after.
‘Ok that sounds retarded but really it’s true.’
Melzer also told his co-conspirators information about his unit’s weaponry and defensive capabilities. He said that his unit lacked firearms including machine guns, grenade launchers, and anti-tank weapons.
The only weapons his unit was said to be armed with were M4 assault rifles, according to investigators.
The charges against Melzer represent the first case that will be overseen by the new acting US attorney in charge of the Southern District of New York.
In a press release, Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss called Melzer ‘the enemy within.’
‘Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal,’ Strauss said.
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the FBI’s New York office, said: ‘Melzer declared himself to be a traitor against the United States, and described his own conduct as tantamount to treason. We agree.’
Strauss became the acting head of the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office when Geoffrey S. Berman resigned after Attorney General William Barr told him in a letter Saturday that he wanted him out and so did President Donald Trump.
Berman stepped down only after he was assured Strauss, his second-in-command, would replace him and that the office’s ongoing probes would not be disturbed.
Melzer, who enlisted in the Army in December 2018 and allegedly reached out to the extremist group in 2019, was arrested on June 10. He faces charges including trying to support terrorists and conspiring to murder military members.
It was not immediately clear who will represent him in court.
The complaint said that during a May 30 interview, Melzer confessed to his role in plotting the attack, admitting he planned for it to cause the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible.
The complaint said he also declared himself to be a traitor against the United States whose conduct was tantamount to treason.