A private in the U.S. Army has been indicted for planning a “mass casualty” attack on his own unit by sharing sensitive information with members of an “occult-based neo-Nazi group,” the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.
Ethan Phelan Melzer, 22, has been charged with collaborating with the Order of the Nine Angles, or O9A, via an encrypted messaging application to attack his own unit while it was overseas and cause “the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible,” The New York Times reported.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan described O9A as a “racially motivated violent extremist group” that espoused “a diabolical cocktail of ideologies laced with hate and violence.”
“Ethan Melzer, a private in the U.S. Army, was the enemy within,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said during the proceedings, the Times reported.
Melzer, she said, attempted unsuccessfully 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 is 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, CNN reported.
Jennifer Willis, an attorney for Melzer, told the network, “We have no comment at this time.”
Melzer, who confessed to the crimes, was thwarted in his plot by both the U.S. Army and FBI in late May and arrested June 10.
According to prosecutors, the Louisville, Kentucky, native declared himself “a traitor against the United States” and said his plan to stage an assault against an unidentified military base was “tantamount to treason,” the Times reported.
“Our women and men in uniform risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.
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