Nicholas Welker, also known as “King ov Wrath,” was arrested Tuesday in San Jose, California based on a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court charging him with conspiring to make threatening statements. The complaint charges that Welker, the one-time leader of Feuerkrieg Division (FKD), an international racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist group, posted death threats against a Brooklyn-based journalist (the “Journalist”) in a public online forum and his co-conspirators tweeted the death threats at the Journalist for reporting on the extremist group. Welker was expected to appear in federal district court in the Northern District of California in San Jose Tuesday afternoon.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) announced the charges.
“As alleged, Nicholas Welker used threats of violence in an effort to stop a journalist from reporting on the white supremacist hate group that he led. He sought to quell freedom of expression and to intimidate and instill fear in a journalist and the journalist’s employer—a well-known news media organization,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “We will not hesitate to prosecute those who threaten the core values on which our society was founded, including freedom of the press.”
Mr. Peace praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the New York City Police Department, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies, and the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office. Mr. Peace also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California for its assistance, as well as the Estonian Internal Security Service and the Prosecutor’s Office for their valuable support.
“As alleged, Mr. Welker and those he encouraged attempted to silence a journalist with threats of violence. Freedom of both speech and the press are integral to our nation, and we will not allow it to be restricted through violence or intimidation. Today’s action serves as a reminder to anyone willing to attack these rights – the FBI will do everything in our power to fulfill our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
Welker’s threat included an image that featured a gun aimed at the Journalist’s head with the words “Race Traitor” over the Journalist’s eyes and stated, “JOURNALIST F[***] OFF! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.” The threat highlighted that the Journalist “Works as a Reporter” at a news media company and is “Responsible for Stalking our Boys for Information.” After Welker posted the threat to an online forum, Welker’s two minor-aged co-conspirators (who were also members of the white supremacist group) tweeted the threat directly at the Journalist’s twitter handle, in the hope that the Journalist would see the death threat and stop reporting.
As alleged in the complaint, Welker was the leader of an extremist group whose members share a common goal of challenging laws, social order, and the government via terrorism and other violent acts. The organization encourages attacks on racial minorities, the Jewish community, the LGBTQ+ community, the U.S. Government, journalists, and critical infrastructure. FKD has members in the United States and abroad.
The charge in the complaint is an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Welker faces a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant United States Attorney Ellen H. Sise is in charge of the prosecution with assistance from Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and EDNY Litigation Analyst Ben Richmond.