US soldier accused of planning neo-Nazi attack on unit in Turkey pleads not guilty

The soldier allegedly sought to help recruit local jihadists in Turkey carry out an attack on a US military facility.

al-monitor US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (L) performs a swearing-in ceremony to re-enlist four troops during his visit to Incirlik airbase, Turkey, on Dec. 14, 2012. Photo by SUSAN WALSH/AFP via Getty Images.

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Jul 7, 2020

A US Army soldier charged last month with conspiring with members of an occult neo-Nazi network to attack his own unit during an upcoming deployment to Turkey has pled not guilty, prosecutors said.

Twenty-two-year-old Ethan Melzer of Louisville, Kentucky, entered his plea on Monday.

Melzer allegedly used an encrypted messaging app to recruit other members of a self-proclaimed satanic network known as the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A) to help recruit local jihadists in Turkey to carry out an attack on a US military facility that Melzer’s unit would soon be guarding.

The soldier told O9A members that his unit would be lightly armed and that the facility they would be guarding could be easily overrun by a few dozen fighters attacking from nearby high ground, prosecutors said. Messages obtained by investigators and allegedly sent by Melzer suggested he was willing to die in the attack in hope of sparking a war in the Middle East.

The plan was thwarted in May and the Justice Department announced charges against Melzer in June. Prosecutors say Melzer confessed to the plot, waived his Miranda rights and described himself as a traitor in interviews.

O9A publications mix satanic references with white supremacist ideology and have praised Adolf Hitler. The group, which originated in the United Kingdom, claims Judeo-Christian culture has weakened Western civilization and members advocate the murder of public officials to subvert the social order. Its publications have also expressed admiration for Osama bin Laden and the group’s founder once pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.

Prosecutors said in June that Melzer became involved in O9A sometime in 2019 after enlisting in the US Army the prior year. Melzer’s unit was deployed in Italy earlier this year when he learned they would be transferring to Turkey, prosecutors said. He then used an encrypted messaging service to leak sensitive information about his unit to other O9A members in a group chat labelled “RapeWaffen Division,” in apparent reference to the white supremacist militant group Atomwaffen Division.

Melzer faces life in prison on charges including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder of US military personnel and attempting to provide material support for terrorism.

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