SEATTLE – The FBI says it has arrested a group of neo-Nazis who allegedly intimidated a local journalist and Jews with threats of hate-inspired violence.
Four people, two with local ties, were connected to the conspiracy.
The case was being investigated by the joint terrorism task force with arrests happening Wednesday morning in Florida, Arizona, Texas and in western Washington. Investigators say the arrests may just be the beginning and more could be coming at a later date.
“The first amendment does not protect speech if it’s accompanied by acts that are taken in furtherance of that hatred and the intent to intimidate and incite violence,” said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Brian Moran.
Fliers showing swastikas and threatening language were mailed to a local journalist and activists who either reported on or disagreed with by what investigators call racially motivated violent extremism, say investigators.
“We’ve definitely seen a rise of violence associated with these groups,” said FBI Seattle Field Office Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda.
Investigators say the four men were part of a group called Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group connected to multiple murders – and all were charged by complaint with conspiracy to mail threatening communications and cyberstalking.
One of the men arrested is Kaleb Cole, a man Q13 News first told you about last year.
In 2019, law enforcement say Cole posed a serious threat to public safety – and his risk to committing violence was ramping up, and that he was taking active steps for what he described as a race war.
Authorities confiscated multiple firearms after they discovered cellphone images of himself taken in Europe performing the Nazi salute and while visiting Auschwitz.
“That disrupted him for a time being,” said Moran.
The other local man arrested, Cameron Brandon Shae from Redmond, allegedly sent one of the flyers to a local journalist who had been investigating his connection to Atomwaffen, say officials.
While none of the arrested men are being accused of physical violence, federal officials warn others part of the hate group could be training for just that.
“The charges are the threats and intimidation, but it would be irresponsible for us to not to address those, as these individuals have the means to carry and the ability to carry out those acts,” said Duda.
A woman who claimed to be a coworker of Shae’s co-workers showed up to federal court Wednesday afternoon. She requested her identity be withheld from publication.
She said she has been friends with the defendant since high school and while he would make some off-color jokes, she always believed he was joking.
The friend, who is Jewish, insisted Shae was never violent, and instead a vegetarian who would feel guilty eating meat.
Shea is expected back in federal court next month.