A lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard is a domestic terrorist and a self-identified white nationalist who was stockpiling weapons to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” federal prosecutors alleged in shocking court filings this week.
Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested on Feb. 15 on gun and drug charges. Four days later, federal prosecutors wrote in a motion to detain Hasson that those charges were just the “tip of the proverbial iceberg.”
“The defendant is a domestic terrorist,” federal prosecutors wrote in the court filing, “bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
Hasson, a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, was assigned at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D.C.
According to prosecutors, Hasson wrote about establishing an ethno-state — a goal he acknowledged would require violence. “Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white. No way to counteract without violence,” Hasson wrote in a June 2017 draft email obtained by prosecutors. “Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch,” he continued.
“I don’t know if there truly is a ‘conspiracy’ of ((((People)))) out to destroy me and mine, but there is an attack none the less,” Hasson wrote in the draft email, deploying parentheses around the word “people” to signify Jews.
Months later, Hasson sent himself a draft letter to an unnamed “American neo-Nazi leader.” He identified himself as a longtime white nationalist in favor of “focused violence” to establish a “white homeland,” prosecutors alleged in court filings. “We need a white homeland as Europe seems lost,” Hasson wrote in the letter. “How long we can hold out there and prevent niggerization of the Northwest until whites wake up on their own or are forcibly made to make a decision whether to roll over and die or to stand up remains to be seen.”
Hasson appears to have researched specific targets for his violent plans. After viewing a headline claiming that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough described President Donald Trump as the “worst ever,” he searched “where is morning joe filmed.” He queried Google for “most liberal senators”; “where do most senators live in dc”; “do senators have ss [secret service] protection” and “are supreme court justices protected.” He also researched prominent left-leaning media figures and politicians, including Chris Hayes, Ari Melber, Don Lemon, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Prosecutors allege Hasson drew inspiration from mass murderer Anders Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist who massacred 77 people in 2011.
“From early 2017 through the date of his arrest, the defendant routinely perused portions of [Breivik’s manifesto] that instruct a prospective assailant to amass appropriate firearms, food, disguises, and survival supplies,” prosecutors wrote. “Consistent with the Breivik manifesto, the defendant performed thousands of visits to websites selling firearms and tactical gear.”
Prosecutors say Hasson also researched U.S. military manuals on “improvised munitions.” When federal agents raided Hasson’s home earlier this month, they found “fifteen firearms and, conservatively, over 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition,” prosecutors said. Although Hasson did not receive tactical, weapons, or explosives-related training in relation to his job with the Coast Guard, he served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993, and spent two years in the Army National Guard.
It is not uncommon for white nationalists to seek weapons and combat training through the military. Last year ProPublica exposed an active-duty Marine as a white supremacist with ties to Atomwaffen Division, a secretive neo-Nazi group whose members fantasize about a race war in the U.S. Atomwaffen deliberately recruits U.S. military personnel because of their training and access to weapons, a former group member told law enforcement officials.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Gina Simms appointed a federal public defender for Hasson during his initial appearance on Feb. 15, but court records do not currently list an attorney assigned to his case. He’s due in court on Thursday afternoon.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has not put out a press release on the case, which was first discovered by Seamus Hughes, a former counterterrorism official who now works with the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.
It is very unusual for federal prosecutors to label a defendant as a “domestic terrorist” ahead of their trial, as HuffPost has previously explained. There’s no federal law against domestic terrorism, which means that federal prosecutors take a different approach to terror cases without a connection to designated international terrorism group.
In this case, prosecutors deployed a drug possession charge and a rarely used statute that makes it illegal to possess a firearm while using or being addicted to a controlled substance. The latter charge is the same one the feds used against neo-Nazi Jeffrey Clark, a D.C. man who stockpiled weapons as he consorted with a number of white supremacists online and in person.
There are specific domestic terrorism charges that the federal government can bring when domestic extremists engage in very specific types of activity, such as targeting a train. But groups like the FBI Agents Association and some former government counterterrorism officials say that Congress needs to change the law so that there’s a specific statute making acts domestic terrorism a federal crime.