Kentucky U.S. Army private Ethan Phelan Melzer has pleaded guilty to charges that he plotted to kill members of his unit in an attack he planned to carry out in 2020 on behalf of a group that "promotes extreme violence to bring about the demise of Western civilization," the AP reports.
Melzer, 24, pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan. Sentencing is set for 6 January: he could face up to 45 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder of U.S. military personnel, 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.
In a press release issued Friday, authorities said he enlisted to infiltrate the military on behalf of the group, which espouses neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and satanic beliefs and encourages its members to infiltrate the military to train, commit acts of violence and identify like-minded individuals so they can try to "subvert the military from within."