A former Army private who pleaded guilty last year to plotting to murder members of his own unit with help from satanic neo-Nazis was sentenced today to 45 years in prison, the Justice Department announced.

Former Pvt. Ethan Phelan Melzer, 24, who also goes by Etil Reggad, pleaded guilty last June to charges of attempting to murder U.S. service members, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and illegally transmitting national defense information during the days leading up his unit’s mid-2020 deployment.

Melzer admitted to sharing sensitive information about his imminent deployment with the 173rd Airborne Brigade — including unit location, movements and security — with an “occult-based neo-Nazi” group called the “Order of the Nine Angles.” The goal, Melzer said in an unsealed indictment, was to plot an insider mass casualty attack.

The Order of the Nine Angles, a U.K.-based anarchist operation that espouses “antisemitic and satanic beliefs,” is known for encouraging its membership to infiltrate the military, among other organizations, with the goal of dismantling from within, according to court documents. Members of O9A have openly expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden, among others.

Meltzer, who ascribed to the group’s ideals of promoting “extreme violence to accelerate and cause the demise of Western civilization,” aimed to “essentially cripple” the unit’s “fire-teams” with the inside information he was providing, according to documents.

“Melzer betrayed his fellow soldiers and his country,” FBI Counter Terrorism Assistant Director Robert R. Wells said following the sentencing. “Americans serving their country overseas should never have to fear a terrorist attack from within their own ranks, and today’s sentence holds him accountable for his deadly plan to attack the brave men and women of the armed forces who protect our nation.”

Melzer began active service as an Army infantryman in June 2019 and deployed that October to Vicenza, Italy, as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. While there, he consumed extensive propaganda from numerous extremist groups, including O9A and ISIS, and routinely downloaded and accessed videos of jihadist attacks and executions, court documents showed.

In May 2020, Melzer was informed his unit would be deploying to another overseas location to guard a sensitive U.S. military base. Pre-deployment workups in the weeks that followed provided Melzer with terrorist threat training and access to numerous classified briefings, information that he immediately funneled via encrypted messaging applications to members of the Order of the Nine Angles.

Specifically, Melzer corresponded with individuals belonging to an O9A subgroup known as the “RapeWaffen Division,” which is known to promote rape and murder as weapons in the group’s pursuit of a race war. Melzer provided RapeWaffen membership with information on troop movements, relevant dates and locations, security details, weaponry and topography to facilitate a mass casualty “jihadi attack,” according to court documents.

Melzer also shared the intelligence with someone claiming to be a member of al Qaida, and promised to leak more information, including photos and U.S. radio channel frequencies, upon arrival in-country.

“[Y]ou just gotta understand that currently I am risking my literal free life to give you all this,” he told members of O9A on an encrypted messaging application. Melzer also wrote that he was “expecting results” and was willing to die to further the agenda of the Order of the Nine Angles.

“[W]ho gives a f—?” he wrote. “[I]t would be another war — I would’ve died successfully — cause another 10 year war in the Middle East would definitely leave a mark.”

Melzer was taken into custody by the FBI on June 10, 2020. In an interview with FBI agents, he admitted being a traitor against the U.S. and confessed that he planned to cause the mass casualties of U.S. service members.

“Ethan Melzer infiltrated the U.S. Army in service of a neo-Nazi, white supremacist and jihadist group,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “He used his membership in the military to pursue an appalling goal: the brutal murder of his fellow U.S. service members in a carefully plotted ambush. … Melzer traitorously sought to attack the very soldiers he was entrusted to protect.”

Melzer’s sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods. The investigation was carried out by the FBI New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the FBI’s Legal Attaché Office in Rome, U.S. Army Counterintelligence and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, among others.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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