A Washington man was sentenced today to 84 months, or seven years, in prison for his role in a conspiracy to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists working to expose anti-Semitism.
Kaleb Cole, 25, leader of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, was convicted by a federal jury in the Western District of Washington on one count of obstructing federally protected activity on the basis of religion, three counts of sending threatening communications and one count of conspiring with other Atomwaffen members to commit three offenses against the United States – interference in federally protected activities on the basis of religion, sending threatening messages and cyberstalking.
“Threats motivated by religious intolerance are contrary to American values, especially when they are aimed at intimidating journalists and others who strive to speak out against bigotry in our society. said Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “The accused led a multi-state conspiracy by a neo-Nazi group to threaten and intimidate journalists and activists who were doing important work to expose anti-Semitism across the country. The Department of Justice will continue to investigate and prosecute these heinous acts. “
“Kaleb Cole helped lead a nationally violent neo-Nazi group,” said US Attorney Nick Brown for the Western District of Washington. “He has repeatedly encouraged violence, stockpiled weapons and organized ‘hate camps’. Today the community and those Mr. Cole and his co-conspirators have targeted stand up to say that hate has no place here. He tried to intimidate journalists and activists with hateful and threatening posters, tried to amplify their fear. Instead, they confronted him in court and their courage resulted in the federal prison sentence imposed today. “
“The accused sought to intimidate journalists and defenders working to expose anti-Semitism, but that effort failed,” said deputy director Timothy Langan of the FBI’s anti-terrorism division. “The victims targeted by Cole retaliated, but not with threats of violence; they fought back in court. The FBI will continue to do its part by aggressively investigating cases involving threats or acts of violence. “
“Mr. Cole has shown through his actions that his beliefs are more than rhetoric,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Voiret of the FBI Seattle Field Office. “Without a doubt, the exemplary work of our investigators and partners prevented Cole’s targets from becoming victims of violence. “
Evidence presented at trial showed that Cole and other Atomwaffen members conspired to intimidate journalists and others by sending threatening posters or putting up the posters at the homes of the victims. The group focused mainly on those who are Jewish or journalists of color. Cole created the posters, which warned 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. The threatening posters were delivered to homes at the end of January 2020.
At trial, victims described the impact of receiving the posters on them. Some have left their homes for a while or have installed security systems. One of them bought a firearm and took a firearms safety course. Another started to open her mailbox with a stick for fear of what might be inside. One quit her job as a journalist.
Three other co-conspirators – Cameron Shea, Johnny Roman Garza and Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe – had previously pleaded guilty and had been convicted.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Seattle, Tampa, Houston and Phoenix, with assistance from the Seattle Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Woods and Seth Wilkinson for the Western District of Washington, and Civil Rights Division Attorney Michael J. Songer, with valuable assistance provided by Trial Attorney David Smith of the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division and the United States. Law offices in the Central District of Florida, the South District of Texas, the District of Arizona and the Central District of California.