Army investigators have opened an inquiry into a Reserve operations officer in connection with racist, anti-government screeds calling for extreme violence posted online, an Army Reserve spokesman confirmed to Military Times on Thursday.
The Army Reserve is investigating Maj. William Jeffrey Poole, 34, in connection with messages posted under the name “Nebor” on the social media site Reddit after a group of Army subreddit whistleblowers compiled a 75-page dossier on his comments across multiple online platforms.
“Nuclear war wiping out the major cities would be a healthy reset for our nation,” Nebor wrote in late September on a Reddit thread, one of the top posts on his profile overview. “As long as Tel Aviv got a taste too. But our nation would be better off without NYC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Minneapolis, Washington DC, Seattle, etc. They’re all full of traitors and bugmen.”
Poole, who goes by Jeff, is an operations officer at the 98th Training Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, an initial entry unit for Army Reserve soldiers, an Army Reserve spokesman confirmed.
“We are aware of the situation and are in the process of conducting an investigation,” Lt. Col. Simon Flake told Military Times in a statement issued Thursday, after Military Times provided the dossier to the Army Reserve and asked whether an investigation had been launched into Poole. “Due to the ongoing investigation we are unable to provide more information at this time.”
The Army subreddit is generally a place for soldiers to come and vent about their units, get advice on how to make the most of their Army careers, or maybe reach out in their darkest moments to a group of people who understand.
That’s why when one of its users noticed someone claiming to be an infantry officer posting more than your average edgy military humor, he went on an internet deep dive to figure out exactly who was behind the Nebor username.
“And I saw that his page was pretty crazy. And the more that we looked ― it’s not a shock to find racists on the internet,” the former soldier told Military Times. “The armed insurrection and violence toward officers, that is a little out of the norm.”
Poole’s alleged activity― though not clearly aligned with any particular organization ― is particularly alarming, the former intel soldier said, because he is a field-grade officer.
So the former intel soldier reached out to Army Criminal Investigation Command in late September. A CID spokesman declined to confirm an investigation, but an email between the Reddit tipster and a CID analyst confirms receipt of the 75-page PowerPoint the tipster and other concerned Army Redditors compiled on Nebor.
The former intelligence soldier asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.
Military Times independently reviewed Nebor’s online activity, as well as a Twitter account ― CPT Aloha ― associated with Jeff Poole.
- In Nebor’s Reddit posts and comments, he identifies himself as an infantry officer living in Columbus, Georgia, who graduated from the University of Texas in 2008. That is consistent with information on a LinkedIn profile and Facebook account belonging to Jeff Poole.
- A Steam online gaming account belonging to “Nebor” lists the user’s real name as Jeff Poole.
- A Twitter account associated with Jeff Poole, which until recently described the user as an Army officer living in Hawaii, shares the handle CPT_Aloha with a Plenty of Fish account, which includes photos of the user’s face.
- Those photos are the same as some found on Jeff Poole’s Facebook page, and the user is identical to the profile picture on Jeff Poole’s LinkedIn page.
- A background check on William Jeffrey Poole shows addresses in Texas, Hawaii and Georgia, consistent with the locations Nebor talks about being stationed, as well as two email addresses using the “Nebor” alias.
The Facebook and LinkedIn profiles are still active, but the Nebor Reddit profile had been scrubbed and the CPT_Ahola Twitter account deactivated as of Oct. 9. However, saved links to dozens of posts are still retrievable online.
Poole did not respond to phone calls, text messages and emails asking for comment on the allegations.
Just a taste
“Only around 10 [percent] of my posts are in public subreddits. You’re just getting a tiny sanitized taste,” Nebor wrote in a late September thread, after a fellow Redditor accused him of racism.
That “taste” includes hundreds of posts and comments in which Nebor refers to himself as a racist, a bigot and a national socialist ― the same political affiliation as Germany’s notorious Nazi party. He also advocates for the nuclear devastation of major U.S. cities, and armed insurrection against the government, to include killing his fellow service members.
Elsewhere, Nebor was rather active on the Army subreddit, discussing his career and doling out advice to those seeking it. In a series of posts and comments, he described himself as a Dallas, Texas, native, who attended his hometown University of Texas campus and joined the Army soon after. He also mentioned planning to retire from the Army at 20 years.
Poole’s Army service record puts his commissioning in the Army Reserve at November 2008, with two Afghanistan deployments, currently stationed at the 98th Training Division.
After a thorough review of Nebor’s Reddit activity, the former intel soldier Googled his username looking for associated accounts.
“There’s so many people on the internet that, if you just dropped an anonymous tip to Army CID saying, ‘Hey there’s a guy saying crazy things on the internet,’ that might not go anywhere,” he said.
Then the Redditors matched CPT_Aloha’s profile picture to the public images on Facebook and Plenty of Fish accounts for Jeff Poole.
Nebor means “fighter” in Sorbian, a German dialect native to the country’s Saxony region. Until it was deactivated, the CPT_Aloha account bore the name “Angry Saxon.”
“What really worried us was the violence ... the violence directed toward superior commissioned officers," the former soldier who launched the investigation said. "Threats of, essentially, blowing up general officers. The idea that he would use the Army in a way that would be anti-government and anti-American was pretty concerning. That’s a textbook [counter-intelligence] concern that we’re all taught to look for and recognize.”
He reached out to Military Times, he added, for insurance that the investigation wouldn’t be buried.
“Does that person have enough rank to make this go away? Does he have enough influence that this won’t matter? Is it just going to be a [General Officer Memo of Reprimand] and then nothing real happens?” he said.
The military services have been wrestling recently with alarming headlines and investigations into white supremacist and other far-right internet musings by troops.
Last year, the Defense Department reported in a letter to former Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, that it had received 27 reports of extremist activity in the previous five years, and that 18 of those troops had been disciplined or discharged because of it.
At the center of the controversy has been the Atomwaffen Division, which has had several junior enlisted troops among its alleged followers.
The group is responsible for five murders in the past two years, according to a July policy brief by the International Centre for Counter-terrorism, moving from far-right activism after its 2015 founding to acts of violence more recently.
At the other end of the spectrum, in 2018, the Army forced out a junior officer, 2nd Lt. Spenser Rapone, who had used his Twitter account to espouse the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in favor of a communist revolution.
Investigations by both the U.S. Military Academy, his alma mater, and 10th Mountain Division, his last command, were heavily redacted and largely obscured a long and somewhat open history of his political leanings, first while serving as an enlisted infantryman in the 75th Ranger Regiment and through his time as an officer.
The issue has even motivated Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, the head of the Army Reserve, to create and post a video on rooting out the problem in the ranks.
“This is the Army, it’s not a gang,” he said.
The former intel soldier recommended that anyone who notices this kind of behavior report it to CID, even if it’s just using the anonymous tip line.
“I can understand how, especially if you’re a young soldier, you wouldn’t feel comfortable coming forward with this,” he said. “There’s a reason why the group that I worked with on this doesn’t feel comfortable identifying themselves to anyone, including Army CID. And that is because we always know that there is the threat of some type of repercussion or blowback.”
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