A former US Army soldier pleaded not guilty to charges that he was planning a mass casualty attack on his own unit by sending sensitive information to an extremist group.
Ethan Melzer, 22, of Louisville, Kentucky, was a private in the US Army who authorities say was planning an attack on his unit by sending sensitive details about his unit’s location, movements and security to an extremist group known as Order of the Nine Angels or O9A.
Members of O9A have supported violent, Neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs and have expressed admiration for Nazis including Adolf Hitler and Islamic Jihadists including Osama Bin Laden, according to prosecutors.
Melzer is currently being held in federal prison in Manhattan, where he faces charges after the alleged plot was thwarted by the FBI and US Army in May.
The former solider was indicted in June on charges of conspiracy to murder US nationals, attempted murder of US nationals, conspiracy to murder US service members, attempted murder of US service members, provision and attempted provision of material support to terrorists, and conspiracy to murder and maim in a foreign country.
Prosecutors allege that in April, while stationed in Europe, Melzer was told his unit would be redeployed to another country and that he shared the information about the move to members of O9A using an encrypted device. The indictment alleges Melzer confessed to his role in plotting an attack on his unit during a May 30 interview with authorities.
During the interview he allegedly told investigators that he intended for the attack “to result in the deaths of as many of his fellow service members as possible,” and declared himself a traitor against the US.
Prosecutors allege that Melzer consumed propaganda disseminated by the O9A and ISIS.
“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 in a statement issued in late June. “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.”
Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss called Melzer the “enemy within” in the same statement, noting that he “allegedly attempted to orchestrate a murderous ambush on his own unit.”
In late June Jennifer Willis, an attorney for Melzer, told CNN, “We have no comment at this time.” CNN has reached out to an attorney for Melzer for an updated comment.