Editor's note: The video above was originally published in December 2019.
SEATTLE - A federal magistrate in Seattle has ordered the reputed leader of a violent neo-Nazi organization to remain jailed pending trial.
Judge Paula McCandlis rejected a request to allow 24-year-old Kaleb Cole to be released on home monitoring to his father’s house near Arlington, Washington.
At a hearing Friday held via telephone and video monitor due to social distancing requirements, Cole’s lawyer argued that his client exercised his free speech rights and did not directly threaten anyone when speaking on recorded conversations with an undercover agent who had infiltrated the Atomwaffen Division.
Cole never said anything “…that would suggest any plan to engage in actual violence,” said defense attorney Christopher Black.
Black said Cole has no criminal record, and that he has strong ties to Washington state and would not flee if released.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods pushed back and told the judge that Cole has traveled extensively throughout the past two years, including New Zealand and former Nazi sites in Eastern Europe.
“He was meeting with other extremists,” Woods said of Cole’s international travels.
Court documents say Cole is the leader of Washington’s Atomwaffen cell, a small, nationwide group of neo-Nazis with a particularly violent ideology.
Earlier this year, Cole was arrested along with four other suspected Atomwaffen members and accused of a campaign to threaten and harass minorities and journalists.
In 2019, Cole was served with a red flag order as police seized about a dozen firearms from his father’s home in Arlington. Authorities convinced a judge to issue the civil order declaring that Cole was a significant danger to the community based on his statements, videos that he posted online declaring a “race war,” and his growing stockpile of guns and ammunition.
Two months later, Cole was stopped in his car by deputies in Garza County, Texas. Rifles were found in the backseat of the vehicle and 2,000 rounds of ammunition in the trunk.
Another Atomwaffen member, Aidan Bruce-Umbaugh, told deputies and the FBI that the weapons were his.
Cole was released and living in Texas until his arrest in February.
Court records say Cole was handpicked as a leader of Atomwaffen by the group’s founder, Brandon Russell, who is imprisoned in Florida for possessing explosive materials that were to be used in a bomb plot.
Nationwide, Atomwaffen members are linked to five murders.
Cole faces charges of conspiracy to mail threatening communications and cyberstalking. Brandon Cameron Shea, of Redmond, is also charged in that case and remains behind bars at the federal detention center in SeaTac.