A neo-Nazi serving as a lieutenant in the US Coast Guard has been caught plotting to attack Democratic members of Congress, including congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and well-known media personalities, according to prosecutors.
Christopher Hasson intended “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country”, according to a filing to federal court in Maryland.
Law enforcement officers seized 15 guns and 1,000 rounds of ammunition from his home.
Prosecutors said that Hasson was a “domestic terrorist” and should be detained.
“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” US District Attorney Robert Hur said in a motion seeking that Hasson be detained until trial. “The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
Hasson was arrested last week on drugs and weapons charges.
The filing said Hasson, a fan of the Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik, compiled a spreadsheet of apparent targets, including Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and anchors from CNN and MSNBC.
Then he searched online for “civil war if Trump impeached” and “what if Trump illegally impeached”, according to investigators.
The court filing describing Hasson’s plot was first noted by Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of at George Washington University’s programme on extremism and a former US anti-terrorism official.
Hasson is a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran currently posted to US Coast Guard headquarters in Washington DC, according to investigators.
He had been stockpiling weapons in his cramped basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The court filing quoted e-mails recovered from Hasson’s account in which he spoke about “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the Earth”.
He mused about biological attacks along with bombings and shootings: “I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something.”
He used far-right slogans spread in recent years by some supporters of Donald Trump, warning that “liberalist/globalist ideology” was destroying white Americans and discussing conspiracies by
“((((People))))” – a styling frequently applied online by the far-right to the names of Jews.
Since early 2017, Hasson had “routinely perused” a copy of a manifesto drawn up by Breivik, the Norwegian far-right extremist who killed 77 people in the country in 2011, according to US investigators.
Hasson also searched the manifesto for references to steroids, which Breivik took in preparation for his massacre.
Dozens of bottles labelled “HGH” (human growth hormone) were found at Hasson’s home.
He also bought a variety of guns and rounds of ammunition from retailers in several different states, spending thousands of dollars on pistols, rifles and other equipment.
Then Hasson “began the process of targeting specific victims”, seeming to follow an instruction by Breivik to identify “cultural Marxist/multiculturalist traitors”, according to the court filing.
He searched online for “where do most senators live in dc” and looked into whether members of Congress and Supreme Court justices had US secret service protection.
After viewing an online article in which MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough referred to Trump as “the worst ever” president, Hasson looked up where Scarborough’s show Morning Joe is filmed and found the location of Scarborough’s former home.
Prosecutors said that on January 17, Hasson began compiling a spreadsheet of prominent people “consistent with the types of people who Breivik identifies as ‘traitors’ and targets for an attack”.
Many on the list have also been frequent subjects of abuse from Republicans including Trump.
The list included “poca warren”, which prosecutors said was an apparent reference to Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Trump has nicknamed Warren “Pocahontas” for her claim to have distant native American heritage.
Hasson’s spreadsheet also named the Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal, Tim Kaine, Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker.
In addition to Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, it featured House speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Representatives Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Beto O’Rourke.
It also included cable news presenters such as Scarborough, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Ari Melber, and CNN’s Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones.
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