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USA v. Ethan Phelan Melzer, aka “Etil Reggad”

November 15, 2021

The Department of Justice announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging Ethan Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, 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 an extremist organization named 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, 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. The FBI and the U.S. Army thwarted Melzers plot in late-May 2020, and the FBI arrested Melzer on June 10, 2020.

Melzer joined the U.S. Army in approximately 2018, and he joined O9A by approximately 2019. Members and associates of O9A have espoused violent, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic, and Satanic beliefs, and have expressed admiration for both Nazis, such as Adolf Hitler, and Islamic jihadists, such as Osama Bin Laden, the now-deceased former leader of al Qaeda. Members and associates of O9A have also participated in acts of violence, including murders.

In approximately October 2019, Melzer deployed abroad with the Army. Prior to planning the attack, Melzer consumed propaganda from multiple extremist groups, including O9A and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which is also known as ISIS. For example, in connection with the investigation, the FBI seized from an iCloud account maintained by Melzer 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 2020.

In approximately April 2020, the Army informed Melzer of plans for a further foreign deployment by his unit. Melzer thereafter sought to facilitate a deadly attack on his fellow service members. After he was notified of the assignment, Melzer used an encrypted application to send messages to members and associates of O9A and a related group known as the ‘RapeWaffen Division,’ including communications regarding Melzers commitment to O9A and sensitive information related to his units anticipated deployment such as locations, movements, and security, for purposes of facilitating an attack on Melzers unit. 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 wouldve died successfully . . . cause [] another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark.’

During a voluntary interview with military investigators and the FBI, Melzer admitted his role in plotting the attack. Melzer said that he intended the planned attack to result in the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible. Melzer also declared himself to be a traitor against the United States, and described his conduct as tantamount to treason. (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)

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