A U.S. Army soldier, who was affiliated with a terrorist group promoting extreme violence, pled guilty on Friday to planning a jihadist attack on his own military unit.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Ethan Melzer, 24, was a member of Order of the Nine Angles, or O9A. The group is an occult-based, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist group that also supports Islamic jihadists.
He joined the U.S. Army in 2018 as part of an O9A effort to infiltrate its ranks and further his goals as an O9A adherent.
In the days leading up to deployment to Turkey, Melzer sent details about his unit's location and security measures to members of the radical organization.
"As he admitted in court today, Ethan Melzer attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush on his own unit by unlawfully disclosing its location, strength, and armaments to a neo-Nazi, anarchist, white supremacist group. The defendant believed he could force the U.S. into prolonged armed conflict while causing the deaths of as many soldiers as possible," said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
The defendant and his accomplices also sent messages about the planned attack to a member of al Qaeda.
After arriving at the military base, he intended on sending photographs of the facility and the radio frequency of the U.S. Army.
In an encrypted electronic message, Melzer told O9A members, "(y)ou just gotta understand that currently, I am risking my literal 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 gives a f*** ... it would be another war ... I would've died successfully ... cause another 10-year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark."
The attack was intercepted due to joint efforts by the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as police forces and other military departments, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Melzer admitted to attempting to murder U.S. service members, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and illegally transmitting national defense information.
"Melzer's traitorous conduct was a betrayal of his storied unit and nothing short of an attack against the most essential American values," Williams stated. "Thanks to the incredible work of the FBI and the U.S. Army, Melzer's duplicity was revealed and his murderous attack thwarted."