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US soldier accused of sending information to neo-Nazi group as part of plot to attack his unit

A U.S. soldier is accused of sending information to a neo-Nazi group as part of an alleged plot to facilitate a “mass casualty” event on his Army unit, federal prosecutors said Monday. 

The FBI arrested the 22-year-old soldier, Ethan Melzer, of Louisville, Ky., on June 10 after the FBI and Army thwarted his alleged plot in late May, according to a Department of Justice release

Melzer allegedly shared information about his Army unit, including its location, with members of a neo-Nazi group, Order of Nine Angles, or O9A, prosecutors said. 

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Melzer and his co-conspirators planned what they referred to as a “jihadi attack” with the objective of causing “mass casualty,” according to the criminal complaint and indictment charging Melzer. 

Melzer admitted his role in plotting the attack, said he intended the attack to result in the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible and declared himself to be a traitor against the U.S, prosecutors said. 

“Melzer declared himself to be a traitor against the United States, and described his own conduct as tantamount to treason. We agree. He turned his back on his county and his unit while aligning himself with members of the neo-Nazi group O9A,” William Sweeney Jr., the assistant director in charge of the FBI's New York field office, said in the release. “Today, he is in custody and facing a lifetime of service – behind bars – which is appropriate given the severity of the conduct we allege today.” 

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 materials support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country.

Officials said members and associates of O9A have espoused violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and satanic beliefs. 

Melzer allegedly consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups, including O9A and ISIS, around October 2019, before he was deployed abroad, according to the criminal complaint and indictment. 

After Melzer was informed around April 2020 of plans for further foreign deployment by his unit, he allegedly used an encrypted application to send messages to members of O9A regarding sensitive information related to this unit’s deployment. Around May 17, Melzer allegedly exchanged messages about the anticipated deployment to a purported member of al Qaeda, according to the complaint and indictment.