A former leader of a far-right extremist group has been arrested on federal charges in California after allegedly making violet threats against a Brooklyn-based journalist.
Nicholas Welker — the former leader of the Feuerkrieg Division, a mostly-online group of neo-Nazis — was cuffed in San Jose on Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Welker, also known online as “King ov Wrath,” allegedly posted death threats against an unnamed journalist in an online forum in response to the journalist’s reporting on the FKD and other extremist groups. Two “co-conspirators,” who were underaged at the time, then posted the death threats on Twitter and tagged the journalist in an attempt to intimidate them, according to the Attorney’s 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,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace, in a statement. “He sought to quell freedom of expression and intimidate and instill fear in a journalist and the journalist’s employer — a well-known news organization.”
Welker is expected to appear in federal court in San Jose on Tuesday.
According to the complaint filed against Welker in federal court by an FBI agent, the FKD started making threats against the journalist — who was not named for their safety – since the summer of 2021, in response to the journalist’s coverage of FKD.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the FKD is a small international group “that advocates for a race war and holds some of the white supremacist movement’s most extreme views.” The group’s ideology is inspired by that of the larger Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi terrorist group, and its members have been arrested in connection with planned attacks on synagogues and a CNN office. The organization “encourages attacks on racial minorities, the Jewish community, the LGBTQ+ community, the U.S. Government, journalists, and critical infrastructure,” according to the complaint.
In August 2021, Welker allegedly instructed one of the underaged members of the group to photoshop a threatening graphic featuring the journalist in question. The finished image featured a black-and-white image of the reporter with a gun to his head and the words “RACE TRAITOR” over his eyes.
“JOURNALIST F— OFF! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED,” reads bold text above the journalist’s head. “Responsible for stalking our boys for information.”
The graphic also included information about the reporter’s workplace, a national multimedia news organization. At that time, the journalist learned of the threats and alerted leadership at his workplace that he was
now getting explicit death threats from the terror group FKD online.”
Welker posted the image in both public and private FKD groups in an online messaging app. A few days later, the two underaged members of the group posted the image on Twitter, tagging the journalist to ensure he would see them.
According to the complaint, Welker admitted to using “King ov Wrath” as his username online during an interview with the FBI in the fall of 2021. He also admitted to being an FKD leader.
“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,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll. “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.”
If convicted, Welker faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.