Washington state law enforcement officials say the leader of a local neo-Nazi cell — the same group that was connected to the death of the Jewish teenager Blaze Bernstein — may have planned to manufacture untraceable weapons known as “ghost guns.”
Kaleb Cole, who according to court documents is the admitted leader of the Washington state unit of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, has not been charged with a crime. But law enforcement agencies, which had seized a cache of firearms and weapons components in a September raid of his property, went to a county court last month asking for a protection order allowing them to hold the weapons for one year because the owner is a threat to themselves or others, local news station KING 5 reported Thursday.
Officials from multiple law enforcement agencies, including local police and the FBI, said in court that Cole had acquired separate parts needed to manufacture AR-15s. Because he hadn’t bought those weapons intact, he didn’t need to undergo a background check and any firearms made from combining them would have effectively been untraceable.
They also said Cole had produced Atomwaffen propaganda videos, and that he had been detained for 42 days by Canadian immigration services before being deported and banned from that country for life.
The county judge granted the protection order against Cole “based on his recent threats of violence, pattern of threats of violence and recent acquisitions and stockpiling of firearms.” Cole did not appear at his hearing to challenge these claims.
Atomwaffen is an American neo-Nazi group that is considered hardcore even within the white nationalist movement. “They promote violence and the stockpiling of weapons among their members in preparation for a race war,” an FBI special agent testified. Members of Atomwaffen have been linked to five murders, including Bernstein’s death.