A Marine veteran is in federal custody and dealing with a number of gun costs after he allegedly solicited an unnamed police officer as a strawman purchaser for an assault rifle and pistol.
That effort got here whereas the veteran was nonetheless serving, with court docket data additionally alleging that the Marine was a number one member of a neo-Nazi group often called “Rapekrieg” whose idealogy centered on the conviction that rape can be “an especially efficient software towards our many foes.”
Matthew Belanger was arrested June 10 in New York on three costs stemming from purchases of a PTR-91 .308 assault rifle in June 2019 and a Luger pistol in Might 2020.
The case comes as lawmakers — largely Republicans — have pushed again on measures aimed toward boosting the Pentagon’s efforts to analyze extremism within the ranks. Lots of these measures got here after the Jan. 6 rebel and the revelation that many veterans and a few active-duty service members have been individuals within the mob.
In line with prosecutors, considered one of Rapekrieg’s members, known as a witness in court docket paperwork, mentioned that the group “carried out coaching collectively roughly as soon as per 12 months since 2017 with actual firearms.”
“Rapekrieg members have bought uniforms, together with black physique armor with level-3 plates, navy helmets, inexperienced utility uniforms, and a cranium facemask,” the witness informed investigators. Stage 3 physique armor is constructed to cease rounds fired by most rifles that legislation enforcement and navy personnel carry.
The group, together with Belanger, mentioned “taking pictures up” a synagogue within the Lengthy Island space of New York — going as far as to surveil the constructing — “however ultimately determined that burning it down at night time utilizing Molotov cocktails was a greater plan,” the witness informed investigators. This all occurred earlier than Belanger joined the Marines, the paperwork say.
In line with the Marine Corps, Belanger joined the service in August 2018 and was designated as a “Motor Car Operator.”
In line with the Corps, there may be now “a multi-layered, policy-based strategy to screening new and potential Marines for disqualifying private traits” that features a number of interviews, tattoo screenings and background checks. Belanger can also be not the one instance of an alleged lively extremist occurring to affix the navy. In November 2021, federal officers introduced that a 19-year previous man was in a position to enlist and ship off to Air Pressure primary coaching after allegedly collaborating within the Jan. 6 riot. Though designed to forestall future enlistments, these measures are removed from excellent. Lots of the processes now in place depend on both trustworthy self-reporting or reporting by others.
Becoming a member of the Marines did little to cease or sluggish Belanger’s involvement with Rapekrieg.
He spent most of his navy profession at Marine Corps Base Hawaii assigned to the first Battalion, third Marine Regiment, third Marine Division, arriving there in October 2019. By December 2019, a confidential supply informed the FBI’s New York workplace “that as a member of the USMC, [Belanger] has made many statements within the Rapekrieg group chat relating to his navy service.”
The court docket paperwork trace that others with navy expertise could also be concerned within the case.
In February 2020, Belanger confirmed up unannounced and wearing tactical gear on the home of an individual whom court docket data describe as a “witness” in addition to a veteran of the Marine Corps and pal of Belanger “and different Rapekrieg members.”
In line with court docket data, Belanger informed this individual “that he wished to conduct an train within the woods, and requested [the witness] to show techniques [they] discovered whereas within the USMC.”
“[The witness] summarized the complete occasion as weird and an train defendant appeared to take significantly.”
In line with prosecutors, Belanger had a hand in creating the group’s manifesto, which was revealed in Might 2020. The doc, cited by prosecutors, not solely argues in favor of rape as a weapon of worry and violence however requires the extermination of all Jews, in addition to the homicide and torture of “enemies of the white race.”
Prosecutors famous that, in the middle of its investigation, the FBI discovered that Rapekreig “had overlapping beliefs and membership with Atomwaffen Division and RapeWaffen, related teams whose members espouse racially motivated violent extremist Neo-Nazi rhetoric and name for acts of violence to additional their extremist ideology.”
The FBI discovered chat logs “in an encrypted social media platform with others articulating neo-Nazi ideology” from this time period the place Belanger “admitted he’s a Nazi.”
In June 2020, the identical confidential supply who tipped off the FBI in 2019 confirmed investigators a gaggle chat the place Belanger and different Rapekreig members mentioned the potential rape of an unnamed excessive school-aged woman, describing her as a “Good discover” and “May probably get her fairly simple rn,” in addition to sharing photos of her in highschool and at a music recital.
Ultimately, the Marine Corps turned concerned with the investigation into Belanger and, in October 2020, the service signed off on a joint search with the FBI of the barracks the place Belanger lived. There, in response to court docket paperwork, investigators seized a laptop computer and two cell telephones.
“A digital proof evaluation was accomplished on all three gadgets belonging to Belanger revealing roughly 1,950 photos, movies and paperwork associated to white energy teams, Nazi literature, brutality in the direction of the Jewish neighborhood, brutality in the direction of ladies, rape, mass murderers, firearms, physique armor, educational paperwork referring to constructing explosives and/or unlawful firearms, violent uncensored executions and/or rape, and communications associated to illegally obtained firearms,” a number of court docket paperwork defined.
In Might 2021, the Marine Corps discharged Belanger underneath Different Than Honorable situations for Misconduct (Severe Offense), in response to prosecutors. The court docket paperwork notice that the Corps particularly famous Belanger’s “dissident/extremist exercise” because the trigger. “In line with industrial databases, upon discharge from the USMC on Might 10, 2021, Belanger returned to his relative’s dwelling in Selden, New York,” the court docket paperwork added.
In line with the data supplied to Army.com by the Marine Corps, Belanger by no means deployed and earned solely the Nationwide Protection Service medal and International Warfare on Terrorism Service medal — medals that just about each active-duty service member is awarded. He left the Corps as a lance corporal.
The Marine Corps, in a press release to Army.com that didn’t instantly reply to questions on Belanger’s case, harassed that “the Marine Corps is evident on this: There is no such thing as a place for racial hatred or extremism within the Marine Corps.”
“Our power is derived from the person excellence of each Marine no matter background,” the assertion added.
In the meantime, because the annual protection coverage invoice made its manner by way of Congress, some lawmakers used the chance to attempt to cease the investigation into extremists within the navy’s ranks.
One modification to the Home model of the annual Nationwide Protection Authorization Act requires the heads of the FBI, Division of Homeland Safety and Division of Protection to provide a report that appears at how a lot white supremacist or neo-Nazi exercise is happening within the navy and the way the Pentagon plans to deal with it. The modification handed with each single Home Republican voting towards it.
Within the Senate, the Armed Providers Committee issued a report on the coverage invoice that known as Pentagon efforts to root out extremism “an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds, and must be discontinued by the Division of Protection instantly.” As a result of the language is within the report, not the invoice itself, it could not carry the load of legislation if it survives Home-Senate negotiations on a remaining model.
“The committee believes that the overwhelming majority of servicemembers serve with honor and distinction, and that the narrative surrounding systemic extremism within the navy besmirches the women and men in uniform,” the language mentioned.
Army.com has reported on a variety of events the place veterans and repair members have been arrested for extremist exercise. Consultants on the matter have additionally repeatedly famous that, whereas service members — lively and discharged — don’t essentially be a part of extremist teams at better charges than civilians, they regularly make an outsized influence after they do.
Belanger’s lawyer, Leighton Lee, argued in a submitting that the now-discharged Marine was not a flight threat, citing the truth that “he had been absolutely conscious that he was a goal of an investigation” since his barracks have been searched virtually two years in the past. Nevertheless, the decide listening to his case in Hawaii disagreed and, in a listening to July 25, despatched Belanger to federal custody.
Jury choice for his trial is ready to start on Sept. 26, 2022, in response to court docket data.
— Konstantin Toropin might be reached at email@example.com. Observe him on Twitter @ktoropin.
© Copyright 2022 Army.com. All rights reserved. This materials will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.