Extremist group leader arrested for threatening Brooklyn journalist

March 22, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
Breon Peace, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
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STATEWIDE — A Brooklyn journalist was the target of a hate group that they were writing about and now that group’s leader has been arrested and faces charges of conspiring to make threatening statements.

Nicholas Welker, a 31-year-old also known as “King ov Wrath,” was arrested on Tuesday on charges of conspiring to make threatening statements against a Brooklyn-based journalist. Welker, the former leader of the international extremist group Feuerkrieg Division (FKD), is accused of posting death threats in an online forum and directing his co-conspirators to tweet the threats at the journalist.

Hate group leader arrested for threatening a journalist. Former Feuerkrieg Division leader, Nicholas Welker, was arrested for conspiring to make death threats against a Brooklyn-based journalist. Pictured here are Tweets allegedly made by Welker. Tweets courtesy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District.

The journalist had reported on the activities of FKD, an organization with a history of promoting racially or ethnically motivated violence. Welker is scheduled to appear in federal district court in San Jose late Tuesday.

The charges were announced by Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) New York Field Office.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “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.”

According to the complaint, Welker’s threat featured an image of a gun aimed at the journalist’s head with the words “Race Traitor” over their eyes. The threat also mentioned the journalist’s employer, a prominent news organization. Welker’s co-conspirators, two minors who were also members of FKD, subsequently tweeted the threat at the journalist’s Twitter handle.

FKD, which has members in the United States and abroad, is an extremist group that encourages attacks on racial minorities, the Jewish community, the LGBTQ+ community, the U.S. government, journalists and critical infrastructure. The charge in the complaint is an allegation, and Welker is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Previous reports regarding the FKD linked it to plots to attack a Las Vegas synagogue and detonate a car bomb at a major U.S. news network.

At the time of those reports in 2020, the FKD was led by a 13-year-old boy from Estonia who went by the online name “Commander,” who was protected by the law as a minor. The group had approximately 30 members at that time and recruited mostly children and teenagers.

According to a court filing, in April 2019, a joint terrorism task force in Las Vegas began investigating Conor Climo, a 24-year-old who was communicating with members of the Feuerkrieg Division over Wire. Climo reportedly disclosed to an FBI source his plans to firebomb a synagogue or attack a local ADL office. Climo pleaded guilty to felony possession of an unregistered firearm in February 2020.

Another man associated with the group, U.S. Army soldier Jarrett William Smith, also pleaded guilty in February 2020 to providing information about explosives to an FBI undercover agent while stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas in 2019. Smith discussed targeting a news organization with a car bomb, which CNN reported as being the intended target.

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