SEATTLE — The FBI arrested four suspected members of what it calls a "violent extremist group" Wednesday, including one in the Seattle area, for allegedly conspiring to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists.
“The subjects arrested today crossed the line from protected ideas and speech to illegal acts of intimidation and coercion against the individuals that they perceived as a threat to their ideology of hate,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda.
Atomwaffen, which is German for “atomic weapon,” is a small but extreme organization that seeks inspiration from Adolph Hitler and Charles Manson, who ordered mass murders to attempt to trigger a race war.
The four suspected members of The Atomwaffen Division who were charged Wednesday are Cameron Brandon Shea, 24, of Redmond; Kaleb Cole, 24, of Montgomery, Texas; Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, 20, of Spring Hill, Florida and Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Arizona.
Just after midnight Wednesday morning, members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Shea as he reported for work at the Fred Meyer store in Kirkland. Agents could be seen searching his truck.
The arrests have a deeper connection to the Northwest, including at least three people targeted in Seattle.
The victims included two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League and a KING 5 reporter who produced several stories on Atomwaffen's "hate camps" – firearms training sessions – in Washington state.
KING 5 Investigator Chris Ingalls received a threatening letter that included several elements of Atomwaffen propaganda.
The four suspects are accused of using an encrypted online chat group to identify people they wanted to intimidate, particularly targeting Jews and other minorities.
Cole and Shea created posters with Nazi symbols, masked figures with guns and threatening language, according to court documents. The posters were then allegedly sent to Atomwaffen members who printed and distributed the posters to targeted people and groups.
"(They) posed a legitimate and escalating threat to anyone who dared counter or try to expose their activities," Duda said.
“Imagine waking up one morning and finding this at your house,” U.S. Attorney Brian Moran said.
Seattle FBI agents took the letter sent to Ingalls as evidence in the ongoing case.
The group also allegedly targeted a Tampa journalist, although the poster was delivered to the wrong address and a Phoenix magazine journalist, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
All four suspects will be prosecuted in the Western District of Washington, according to Moran.
Moran also cautioned that the charges were just "the starting point" and could change over time.
- 'My swastika flag and firearms': Washington neo-Nazi faces FBI after arrest
- King County charges Neo-Nazi leader afters weapons arrest
- Texas judge refuses request to release evidence against accused Washington neo-Nazi
- 'Advisor' to neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen speaks out
- Neo-Nazis from Washington arrested with guns, ammo in Texas
- AR-15 'ghost gun' parts seized from neo-Nazi leader in Snohomish County
- Washington neo-Nazi leader banned from Canada for life
- White nationalist from Seattle arrested in Norway, may be deported
- 'No comment': KING 5 visits Arlington home where police seized suspected neo-Nazi's weapons
- Police seize guns from avowed neo-Nazi in Snohomish County