Public Safety

Feds accuse Cedar Rapids man of threatening Jewish organization in New York City

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 31-year-old Cedar Rapids man faces federal charges, accused of making violent threats against a Jewish organization based in New York City.

Garrett Kelsey is charged with one count of interstate transmission of threats to injure a person, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

The charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

According to the criminal complaint, Kelsey made violent threats by phone and email to an organization identified only as the “Victim Organization.”

The organization is an international Jewish organization headquartered in Manhattan, according to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Lindsey Kowal of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

According to the complaint, Kelsey called the organization May 23 and identified himself to an employee as “Garrett Odinschild.” He later called back and left a voicemail threatening to slaughter Jewish people.

The voicemail said, “My people have (expletive) slaughtered your (expletive) people before, and we will do it again,” according to the complaint.

Kelsey also emailed the organization, according to Kowal’s affidavit, demanding the removal of a video about Nordic neo-Nazis.

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“You have three days to remove this video and offer an apology to the Asatru community, or we will be taking action against your organization full of degenerates,” the email stated.

The email, Kowal said, was attached to the name “Garrett Odinschild,” the same name Kelsey used when he called the organization.

The affidavit stated that “Asatru” is a “neo-religious movement” aimed at reviving Norse beliefs and has, in recent years, “been linked to anti-Semitic and other racist groups.”

Kelsey also sent threatening messages to a Facebook group named “Iowa Antifa,” threatening to bash in the skulls of the group’s members. The message also made several white supremacist references, Kowal wrote in the affidavit.

Kowal also noted that Kelsey’s Facebook page was littered with anti-Semitic messages, including the page’s cover photograph that depicted “Jewish residents of a ghetto in Warsaw, Poland,” lined up facing a wall with their hands up. Kowal notes the people in the picture were “detained after an uprising during World War II and ultimately transferred to Nazi concentration camps.”

Kelsey was arrested in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday and is currently being held for federal authorities at Linn County Jail.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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