A former U.S. soldier, who pleaded guilty to planning attacks against his military unit, was sentenced to 45 years in prison Friday, the Justice Department said. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
March 3 (UPI) -- A former U.S. soldier was sentenced to 45 years in prison Friday for planning a deadly ambush on members of his military unit.
"Ethan Phelan Melzer, aka Etil Reggad, 24, of Louisville, pleaded guilty to to attempting to murder U.S. service members, providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, and illegally transmitting national defense information on June 24, 2022," a Department of Justice a press release said.
Court documents allege that Melzer planned a "Jihadist attack" on his unit shortly before a scheduled deployment to Turkey in coordination with the Order of the Nine Angels, an organization that the Justice Department describes as a "neo-Nazi and pro-jihadist group."
Melzer was scheduled to be deployed to guard a sensitive military facility and "immediately began passing that information to members of the Order of the Nine Angels," according to the press release.
The Justice Department said that Melzer used encrypted apps to "advocate for and plan a deadly attack on his fellow service members."
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said the sentence "holds Mr. Melzer accountable for an egregious and shameful act of betrayal against his own military unit and his country."
The Order of the Nine Angels, which was founded in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, incorporates elements of Satanism and fascist philosophy.
The organization has come to the attention of British law enforcement who believe its philosophy influenced a 16-year-old who became the youngest person ever convicted for terrorism in Britain in 2019.
The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that individuals involved with the Order of the Nine Angels went on to play leading roles in the United States-based neo-Nazi Atomwaffen terrorist group.
A 2018 investigation by ProPublica revealed that Atomwaffen members had infiltrated the U.S. military.