Kaleb Cole, the reputed leader of a Washington-based neo-Nazi cell, was held by Canadian immigration authorities for 42 days before he was deported and banned from the country for life, according to newly release records obtained by the KING 5 Investigators.
“They considered him such a threat to Canadian citizens that they did not release him (pending his deportation hearing),” said Seattle Police Department Sgt. Dorothy Kim in an audio recording of a court proceeding provided by the King County Superior Court.
The hearing on October 8, 2019, was part of an effort by the Seattle FBI’s terrorism squad, Seattle police, and prosecutors from Seattle and King County to disarm Cole. He is the admitted leader of the Washington unit of The Atomwaffen Division, according to documents filed in court.
“They promote violence and the stockpiling of weapons among their members in preparation for a race war,” testified FBI Special Agent Kate Murphy.
Authorities did not seek a criminal charge. They were asking the judge to grant a civil Extreme Risk Protection Order against 24-year-old Cole, who has lived in Snohomish and Whatcom counties.
In late September, Seattle police showed up at the Arlington home of Cole’s parents with a weapons surrender order and seized more than a dozen firearms including an AK-47 and a Bushmaster rifle.
The point of the October 8 hearing was to convince Judge Averil Rothrock to allow Seattle police to continue to hold those firearms for one year.
Cole did not appear for the hearing, and KING 5 has not been able to reach him for a comment. The woman who answered the door at his parent’s home last month told a reporter “no comment.”
Atomwaffen is a small, nationwide band of neo-Nazis. In other states, members have been linked to five murders. Atomwaffen is German for “atomic weapon.”
As KING 5 reported previously, Cole is believed to have organized “hate camps.” One in Washington occurred outside of Concrete in Skagit Valley.
Online recruitment videos show Atomwaffen members in Washington training with military-style firearms, plastering hate-filled posters on buildings and burning the flag of Israel.
At the October 8 hearing, a Seattle police detective testified that Cole had the machinery and parts to make his own homemade firearms.
“There was a bag of firearm parts. He had a bunch of triggers, springs and other small parts,” said Det. J. Stankovich.
The Seattle Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms – which is not involved in the Cole investigation – said such homemade firearms can be legal if they are made for personal use.
ATF Agent-in-Charge Darek Pleasants said the firearms are known as “ghost guns.” They’re not required to have a serial number and are therefore untraceable if recovered in connection with a crime.
“Sometimes (a trace) comes back to the perpetrator, to a friend or family member and we’re able to further our criminal investigations like that”, Agent Pleasants said. “If I don’t have the ability to trace a firearm, I do not have a starting point (for an investigation),” he said.
The concern is clearly that Cole may have been using his stash of firearms to train and arm other Atomwaffen members.
Seattle FBI contacted the Regional Firearms Enforcement unit for help with its case against Cole. That unit, formed by the Seattle City Attorney, King County Prosecutor and the Seattle Police Department is specialized at obtaining and enforcing Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). A key part of the ERPO process is seizing firearms from people who are a threat to themselves or others.
On the courtroom recording, Judge Rothrock admits that she’s struggling with the decision on whether to take away Cole’s second amendment right to bear firearms. The ERPO would prevent him from possessing guns for one year, and prosecutors could come back after that time and ask that it be renewed.
“Frankly, I was expecting something in our submission, some sort of specific statements he made, rather than evidence of group ideology. So, that’s what I’m struggling with,” Judge Rothrock told King County Deputy Prosecutor Kim Wyatt.
FBI Agent Murphy offered evidence that Cole produced and participated in Atomwaffen’s videos. Photo’s that he took last year during a European trip to several Nazi-related sites appear in those videos.
Authorities also pointed out that Cole has been building up his stash of weapons. They said he is more than just a passive member of Atomwaffen.
“Based on his recent threats of violence, pattern of threats of violence and recent acquisitions and stockpiling of firearms, the court will grant the order,” Judge Rothrock ruled.
The Seattle FBI would not comment on its ongoing investigation into Atomwaffen.