An Army veteran and member of a Neo Nazi group is facing charges of harboring an illegal alien and illegally transporting weapons as part of a plot to smuggle a Canadian army reservist down to a gun rights rally in Virginia, the Associated Press reported Friday.
Former Spc. Brian Lemley, 33, a one-time cavalry scout, is facing charges of transporting and harboring an alien, transporting a machine gun in interstate commerce, unlawfully disposing of a firearm or ammunition and transporting a firearm and ammunition with intent to commit a crime, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday in a Maryland federal court.
Lemley is accused of conspiring with William Bilbrough, 19 to help Canadian soldier and fellow neo-Nazi group member Patrik Mathews, 27, stay in the U.S. illegally, court documents show. He served in the Army from 2004 to 2007, an Army spokesman confirmed Friday, including a year-long deployment to Iraq in 2006.
“Within The Base’s encrypted chat rooms, members have discussed, among other things, recruiting, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities (including African-Americans and Jewish-Americans), the organization’s military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices," the FBI special agent on the case wrote in his affidavit.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, The Base is a small militant group that sprung up in mid-2018, espousing Hitler’s ideals while preparing for a race war in the U.S. as part of its core ideology.
It is among neo-Nazi groups, like Atomwaffen Division, seeking service members and veterans. Atomwaffen, created by a former Florida Army National Guard private named Brandon Russell, is a violent American neo-Nazi organization that some believe to be a domestic terrorist group. Marine Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis, was booted from Corps mid-summer 2018 for his ties to the hate group after his violent participation at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 became known.
Lemley and his co-conspirators appeared in court on Thursday, where a judge ordered all to remain in government custody.
The surveillance investigation uncovered a series of movements by the three men, starting in August, with Mathews illegally crossed the border from Manitoba, Canada, to Minnesota. From there Bilbrough and Lemley drove from Maryland to Michigan to pick up Mathews, then returned to Maryland.
Then in late November, the group purchased parts to make an assault rifle and attempted to manufacture a psychedelic drug known as DMT.
“Oh, oops, it looks like I actually made a machine gun,” Lemley told Mathews, according to FBI surveillance, after an agent observed the pair at a Maryland gun range, appearing to fire off a weapon that released more than one round at a time.
Lemley said that he would take the weapon apart and stow it separately to keep it on the up-and-up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
“Um, if they show up here, we got other problems,” Mathews responded.
After ordering 1,500 rounds of ammunition Jan. 7 and being observed transporting plate carriers four days later, the FBI moved to have the group arrested.
On the same day the complaint hit the court, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in the face threats of violence from pro-gun groups as the newly Democratic Virginia legislature moves to enact strict gun control measures in the state.
A gun rights rally is scheduled for Monday at the Virginia state capitol.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT