U.S. Army private admits plotting attack on military unit

Jun 24, 2022, 2:06 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — A U.S. Army private from Kentucky pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he plotted to murder members of his unit in an attack that he planned to carry out in 2020 on behalf of a group that promotes extreme violence to bring about the demise of Western civilization, authorities said.

Ethan Phelan Melzer, 24, of Louisville, Kentucky, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court. Sentencing was set for Jan. 6, when he could face up to 45 years in prison after pleading guilty to trying to murder U.S. military service members, seeking to support terrorists and illegally transmitting national defense information.

In court papers, federal authorities say Melzer was already a member of a radical violent group known as the Order of Nine Angles, or 09A, before joining the Army in December 2018. According to a criminal complaint, the group is an anarchist group founded in the United Kingdom and now operating around the world, including in the U.S.

Authorities said he had sought to earn a self-initiation into 09A through violence as a street-level drug dealer after shooting a marijuana dealer in the arm in January 2017 near his Louisville apartment.

In one defense court filing, attorneys wrote that Melzer denies belonging to the group and told law enforcement after his arrest that his online claims of membership in the group were “bluster — falsities designed to impress the people he was communicating with online.” The defense filing said that although Melzer had some curiosity about 09A, he believed it was “weird” and “pretty much a cult” and its beliefs were “polar opposite” of his own.

In a release Friday, authorities said he joined the military to infiltrate its ranks on behalf of the group that espouses neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs and encourages its members to infiltrate the military to gain training, commit acts of violence and identify like-minded individuals so they can try to subvert the military from within.

Although he had joined 09A in 2017 or earlier, he began consuming propaganda from multiple extremist groups including the Islamic State on encrypted online forums after he was deployed to Italy in October 2019 as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, the release said.

It said his actions resulting in the charges occurred in part after the Army told him in early May 2020 that he would be reassigned to a unit that would be deployed overseas to guard an isolated and sensitive military installation.

After weeks of training including classified briefings in which he learned the importance and sensitivity of his new assignment, Melzer immediately began passing the information he learned to members of 09A as he proposed and planned a deadly attack on his fellow service members, authorities said.

They said Melzer planned to join co-conspirators to carry out a “jihadi attack” that would cause a “mass casualty” event and had told others that an attack would “essentially cripple” the unit’s “fire-teams.”

In his communications, Melzer told his co-conspirators that he was willing to die for terrorist goals, concluding that he “would’ve died successfully,” according to court documents.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - This still image from video taken Oct. 4, 2021, and provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows a...
Associated Press

Ruptured oil pipeline off California approved for repairs

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Texas oil company was granted permission to repair an underwater pipeline that ruptured off the coast of Southern California a year ago, spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude, and forced beaches and fisheries to close. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the approval Friday to Amplify Energy […]
20 hours ago
FILE - This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020, by then Venezuela's Foreign Mini...
Associated Press

Venezuela swaps 7 jailed Americans for Maduro relatives

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare softening of hostile relations, Venezuela freed on Saturday seven imprisoned Americans in exchange for the United States releasing two nephews of President Nicolás Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years on narcotics convictions. The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, follows […]
20 hours ago
CORRECTS FIRST NAME TO PAUL, INSTEAD OF TOM - Members of mediccorps.org, who arrived with two helic...
Associated Press

Pine Island residents recount horror, fear as Ian bore down

PINE ISLAND, Fla. (AP) — Paramedics and volunteers with a group that rescues people after natural disasters went door to door Saturday on Florida’s devastated Pine Island, offering to evacuate residents who spoke of the terror of riding out Hurricane Ian in flooded homes and howling winds. The largest barrier island off Florida’s Gulf Coast, […]
20 hours ago
FILE - President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, on Nov. 5, 2020. In a Friday...
Associated Press

Archives: Records from Trump WH staffers remain missing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives and Records Administration informed lawmakers that a number of electronic communications from Trump White House staffers remain missing, nearly two years since the administration was required to turn them over. The nation’s record-keeping agency, in a letter Friday to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said that despite […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

UN says detained Iranian-American was allowed to leave Iran

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An 85-year-old Iranian-American who formerly worked for the U.N. children’s agency and was detained in Iran in 2016 has been permitted to leave the country for medical treatment abroad, the United Nations said Saturday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced the departure of Baquer Namazi and said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was grateful […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

What the war in Ukraine means for Asia’s climate goals

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — The queues outside petrol pumps in Sri Lanka have lessened, but not the anxiety. Asanka Sampath, a 43-year-old factory clerk, is forever vigilant. He checks his phone for messages, walks past the pump, and browses social media to see if fuel has arrived. Delays could mean being left stranded for […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
U.S. Army private admits plotting attack on military unit