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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Atomwaffen Leader Convicted for Conspiracy to Threaten Journalists and ADL Employees

Kaleb Cole created the posters, which told the recipients that “you have been visited by your local Nazis.” 

The leader of a Neo-Nazi hate group ‘Atomwaffen’ was convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of five federal felonies for his conspiracy to send threatening posters to journalists and employees of the Anti-Defamation League.  Kaleb Cole, 25, of Montgomery, Texas, was convicted of conspiracy, three counts of mailing threatening communications, and one count of interfering with a federally protected activity. The jury deliberated about 90 minutes following the two-day trial.  U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour scheduled sentencing for January 11, 2022.

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, Cole, and other members of Atomwaffen participated in a plot to intimidate journalists and others by mailing threatening posters or gluing the posters to victims’ homes.  The group focused primarily on those who are Jewish or journalists of color.  Kaleb Cole created the posters, which told the recipients that “you have been visited by your local Nazis.”  The posters contained threatening images, such as a hooded figure preparing to throw a Molotov cocktail at a house.  Another poster contained the words “Death to Pigs,” which is the same message that followers of Charles Manson scrawled in victims’ blood during a home invasion murder.

In January 2020, the co-conspirators printed and delivered or mailed the posters to journalists or others the group was targeting.  In the Seattle area, the posters were mailed to a TV journalist who had reported on Atomwaffen, and to two individuals associated with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).  In Tampa, the group targeted a journalist, but delivered the poster to the wrong address.  In Phoenix, the poster was glued to a bedroom window at the residence of the editor of a Jewish lifestyle magazine.

At trial, the victims described how receiving the posters impacted them.  Some moved from their homes for a time, and installed security systems.  One purchased a firearm and took a firearms safety class. Another started opening her mailbox with a stick due to fear of what might be inside. One left her job as a journalist.

In his closing argument, Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Woods told the jury that Cole “was not simply sending a message of hate, he was sending a statement of terror.”  Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson added, “All of the images (in the posters) were selected by Kaleb Cole to send one message ‘We can get you in your home.’  Cole wanted to terrorize them with threats of physical harm.”

Conspiracy is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  Mailing a threatening communication is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.  Interference with a federally protected activity is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Three other coconspirators have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.  In August 2021, Cameron Shea, 25, of the Seattle area was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Tampa, Seattle, Houston, and Phoenix with assistance from the Seattle Police Department.

Read more at the Justice Department

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