A man weakly connected to vicious neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen has been charged with involving in a swatting ring that affected hundreds of targets, probably including journalists and an executive from Facebook. John William Kirby Kelley was charged for supposedly picking up targets for swatting calls in an Internet relay chat (IRC) channel, and then assisted in recording the fake calls for an audience of white supremacists. He was supposedly caught after giving a bomb threat to get out of classes.
Late last week, the Justice Department uncovered the case against Kelley after that he was arrested and on January 10th he appeared in court. He has been filed with conspiracy to disseminate a threat, under this charge he has to spend five years in prison. The Washington Post reported that his attorney didn’t pass any comment on the allegations.
Anonymous shooting and bomb threat
As per an affidavit, the FBI began investigating Kelley in late 2018, after Old Dominion University in Virginia gotten an anonymous shooting and bomb threat. They connected the call to several other swatting events and a chat channel named Deadnet IRC where members openly discussed coordinating them. According to the affidavit, Kelly is also linked to Doxbin, a site that manages the sensitive personal information of federal judges, journalists, company executives, and others to be swatting victims.
Krebs reported in the past that, the group involved with Doxbin and Deadnet IRC has claimed accountability for swatting a Facebook executive last year. Krebs, who has encountered multiple incidents of swatting, claims he became a target after appearing on Doxbin. The same happened with Pulitzer-winning columnist Leonard G.
Krebs seemingly also went through some Deadnet logs, disclosing other details not directly linked with Kelley’s case. He writes that one of the members accepted to make a bomb threat around a university speech by former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, wishing to “frame feminists at the school for acts of terrorism.” Another member manages a site for followers of the neo-Nazi James Mason who has advised Atomwaffen and posed with members of the group. Currently, three members from Atomwaffen are on trial for five murders.
Swatting hoaxes involves a criminal who makes a fake threat to force an escalated police response. Such hoaxes can be very difficult to trace. It’s simple to anonymously call someone online, and the results of a SWAT have proven itself to be lethal; several times police have killed innocent people during them, including one swatting victim. Many of the swatters are never found, however, 20 years in prison was sentenced to the serial offender involved in that death.
Kelly’s carelessness helped the officers
However, in this case, Kelley was careless. He made a call to the police later from his private university-registered phone number, letting officers run a voice match test on his voice with the anonymous caller. When encountered, he supposedly admitted about his interest in swatting. Soon after that, he logged in to Deadnet IRC and discussed new targets, while other members of the group notably confirmed the bomb threat to his school. He also used to keep swatting videos and Deadnet IRC logs and on thumb drives, which police confiscated during a search of his dorm room.
During the search of Kelley’s phone, the FBI found violent neo-Nazi sympathies. It consisted of pictures of Kelley and others “dressed in tactical gear holding assault-style rifles” alongside “recruiting materials” for Atomwaffen. Another member of Deadnet IRC, after being arrested separately referred himself and his group as “white supremacists.”
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