LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Department of Justice released an indictment Monday charging a Louisville soldier for allegedly planning an attack on his U.S. Army unit with a neo-Nazi and white supremacist group.
Ethan Melzer, 22, has been charged with conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. nationals, conspiring and attempting to murder U.S. military service members, attempting to provide and providing material support to terrorists, and conspiring to murder and maim in a foreign country.
The Department of Justice issued a release stating Melzer had used an encrypted application to send messages to members and associates of an extremist organization called Order of the Nine Angles (O9A).
The organization, based in London, is an occult based neo-Nazi and white supremacist group, supporting violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs.
Melzer joined the U.S. Army back in 2018 and had joined O9A back in 2019 according to the DOJ. Prior to planning the attack, Melzer had consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups. In connection with the DOJ’s investigation, FBI seized an iCloud account managed by Melzer in April 2020 which contained an ISIS-issued document including the phrase “HARVEST OF THE SOLDIERS” and described attacks and murders of U.S. personnel.
The Army informed Melzer of plans for a further deployment of his unit in April 2020. After Melzer was notified of his assignment, he sent encrypted messages off to the O9A including the unit’s location, movements and security for the purpose of facilitating an attack on his unit.
According to the DOJ, Melzer and co-conspirators planned the attack with the purpose of a “mass casualty” event that would victimize his fellow service members. In the encrypted messages, Melzer said he was aware he could be killed during the attack, describing his willingness to die.
Melzer continued to send further correspondence through May 2020. Messages stated that he would leak more information once he arrived at the location of the new deployment to maximize the chances of a successful attack.
The FBI and U.S. Army thwarted this plot in late May 2020, where in a voluntary interview with military investigators, Melzer admitted his role in planning the attack. Melzer said he intended the planned attack to result in many deaths and declared himself to be a traitor against the United States. Melzer described his conduct as similar to treason.
Melzer was arrested by the FBI on June 10, 2020.
“As the indictment lays out, Ethan Melzer plotted a deadly ambush on his fellow soldiers in the service of a diabolical cocktail of ideologies laced with hate and violence,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said. “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. The National Security Division is proud to support the efforts of those who disrupted this planned attack and to seek justice for these acts.”
“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,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office William F. Sweeney Jr. said. “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.”
To view the full released indictment from the Department of Justice, click or tap here.