UPDATE: US soldier planned ‘deadly ambush’ on his own unit, feds say

YAVOROV, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 16: Members of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade demonstrate urban warfare techniques as Bulgarian (bottom) and Ukrainian soldiers look on on the second day of the "Rapid Trident" NATO military exercises on September 16, 2014 near Yavorov, Ukraine. The two-week exercises include participating units from a variety of NATO and NATO-associate countries as well as Ukrainian troops. Meanwhile the Ukrainian parliement today ratified an associate agreement with the European Union and also agreed on a autonomous status for the separatist-controlled portion of eatern Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
YAVOROV, UKRAINE - SEPTEMBER 16: Members of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade demonstrate urban warfare techniques as Bulgarian (bottom) and Ukrainian soldiers look on on the second day of the "Rapid Trident" NATO military exercises on September 16, 2014 near Yavorov, Ukraine. The two-week exercises include participating units from a variety of NATO and NATO-associate countries as well as Ukrainian troops. Meanwhile the Ukrainian parliement today ratified an associate agreement with the European Union and also agreed on a autonomous status for the separatist-controlled portion of eatern Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Credit: Sean Gallup

Credit: Sean Gallup

The U.S. Department of Justice says the Army private being accused of giving classified information to a foreign white supremacy group was planning a “deadly ambush” on his unit.

On Monday, Ethan Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, was indicted for allegedly planning an attack on his U.S. Army unit by sending sensitive details about the unit — including information about its location, movements, and security – to members of the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A), an occult-based neo-Nazi and white supremacist group.

Melzer is charged with conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. nationals, military service members, providing material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country.

Melzer’s alleged plot was thwarted by the FBI and the U.S. Army in late May, according to the department, and the FBI arrested Melzer on June 10.

“Melzer was the enemy within,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York. “Melzer allegedly attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush on his own unit by unlawfully revealing its location, strength and armaments to a neo-Nazi, anarchist, white supremacist group.

“Melzer allegedly provided this potentially deadly information intending that it be conveyed to jihadist terrorists,” Strauss said. “As alleged, Melzer was motivated by racism and hatred as he attempted to carry out this ultimate act of betrayal.”

According to the indictment, Melzer joined the Army in 2018, and he joined O9A by approximately 2019. O9A, the indictment said, have espoused violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs, and have expressed admiration for Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler, and Islamic jihadists, such as Osama Bin Laden.

In October 2019, Melzer deployed abroad with the Army. Melzer, the indictment said, read propaganda from multiple extremist groups, including O9A and ISIS. The FBI said it seized, from Melzer’s iCloud account, an ISIS-issued document with a title that included the phrase “HARVEST OF THE SOLDIERS” and described attacks and murders of U.S. personnel in approximately April.

In April, the Army told Melzer he was again being deployed overseas. Melzer, according to the indictment, then sent encrypted messages to O9A members and another group known as the “RapeWaffen Division.” Those messages allegedly included sensitive information related to his unit’s deployment such as locations, movements and security.

Melzer and his co-conspirators planned what they referred to as a “jihadi attack” during the deployment, with the objective of causing a “mass casualty” event victimizing his fellow service members.

Melzer acknowledged in electronic communications that he could be killed during the attack, and, describing his willingness to die, wrote “who gives a [expletive] [...] it would be another war ... I would’ve died successfully ... cause [] another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark.”

About May 17, Melzer sent more information about the anticipated deployment to a purported member of al Qaeda. Between May 24-25, Melzer sent additional electronic messages with specific information about his unit’s anticipated deployment, including the number of soldiers who would be traveling, the location of the facility to which Melzer expected the unit would be deployed and information about the facility’s surveillance and defensive capabilities.

Melzer allegedly promised to leak more information once he arrived at the location of the new deployment in order to try to maximize the likelihood of a successful attack on his unit.

The Justice Department said Melzer has admitted his role in plotting the attack, and that the attack’s goal was to result in as many service members’ deaths as possible. He also, according to the department, has declared himself to be a traitor against the United States and described his conduct as tantamount to treason.

“Melzer declared himself to be a traitor against the United States and described his own conduct as tantamount to treason,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office William F. Sweeney Jr. “We agree. He turned his back on his county and his unit while aligning himself with members of the neo-Nazi group O9A. Today, he is in custody and facing a lifetime of service — behind bars.”

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