An active duty U.S. Coast Guard officer stationed at the service’s Washington, D.C., headquarters sought to follow in the footsteps of a far-right European terrorist, a federal prosecutor said, and had a hit list of Democratic politicians and cable news hosts he wanted to kill.
Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson of Silver Spring, Maryland, wrote a letter to an unnamed neo-Nazi in September 2017 advocating for a “white homeland.”
“I never saw a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas etc.,” Hasson wrote. “I was and am a man of action you cannot change minds protesting like that.”
The FBI arrested Hasson, who works in acquisitions, on Feb. 15 and are seeking to hold him pending trial. A detention hearing is set for Thursday in federal court in Maryland.
Hasson’s letter to the white nationalist came seven weeks after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In it, Hasson discusses his 28 years in the military – the Marines and the Army National Guard, along with the Coast Guard – and said, “You can make change with a little focused violence.”
In early 2017, Hasson started reading through the manifesto of Anders Breivik, a Norwegian far-right domestic terrorist who killed 77 people in an attack on July 22, 2011. Breivik confessed that the massacre was motivated by his desire to rid Norway of Muslims.
Prosecutors said Hasson searched multiple sites for weapons and military technical manuals on improvised munitions.
Federal agents found 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition when Hasson was arrested Feb. 14.
Prosecutors cited a draft email written by Hasson in June 2017 in which he said he was "dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth" using a "Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax" or some other mass toxin.
In the letter to the unnamed neo-Nazi, Hasson wrote about a “white homeland” and his time as a “skinhead” and in the military.
“How long can we 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 wrote.
Like Breivik and, more recently, alleged bomber Cesar Sayoc of Florida, Hasson made a target list, prosecutors said, picking out specific victims, including current and former elected officials as well as cable news hosts on MSNBC and CNN.
Sayoc is awaiting trial on charges that he delivered bombs to a variety of Democratic politicians, including former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as CNN.
Hasson searched for “Most liberal senators,” “where do most senators live in dc” and “are supreme court justices protected,” prosecutors said.
His searches also included MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough, and he sought details about where the “Morning Joe” show was taped. He also found Scarborough’s home address online.
In January, prosecutors said, Hasson pulled together a list similar to Breivik’s, identifying people he considered traitors.
Others targeted by Hasson, prosecutors said, were MSNBC host Chris Hayes, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who he identified as “Sen blumen jew,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, among others.
Hasson also searched “civil war if trump impeached” and “best place in dc to see congress people.”
Federal agents also found that Hasson read through Breivik’s diary online about the use of steroids. In the diary, Breivik recommends using a six-week steroid cycle while preparing for an attack.
In Hasson’s home, agents found a locked container with more than 30 bottles of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) inside.
Radicals in the military
The military has a history of producing violent radical right-wing extremists.
The head of the the neo-Confederate League of the South’s Florida chapter, Michael Tubbs, was a demolitions expert in the Green Berets. Tubbs pleaded guilty in 1991 to theft of government property and conspiracy to transport guns and explosives across state lines.
Prosecutors said Tubbs and his brother coordinated the theft of an arsenal and were setting up a violently racist group called the Knights of the New Order. Officials said Michael Tubbs had drawn up lists of targets including newspapers, television stations and businesses owned by Jews and blacks.
After his release from prison in 1995, Tubbs immediately rejoined the white supremacist movement.
And, the idea of acting alone, a concept known as “leaderless resistance,” started with former Ku Klux Klansman and Army veteran Louis Beam.
Beam served in the Army during the Vietnam War, then returned to Texas and joined the local chapter of the United Klans of America.
Beam mentored domestic terrorists in the 1980s and into the early 1990s on the idea of taking action in small cells of one to six men. The goal was to stop the destruction of organizations infiltrated or compromised by law enforcement.
Instead, Beam counseled extremists working independently, using “lone wolves” to take action. These “lone wolves” would “act when they feel the time is ripe, or [would] take their cues from others who precede[d] them.”
One of the most infamous lone-wolf terrorists in American history, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, was a Gulf War veteran. His partner, Terry Nichols, was in the army.
In a draft email from 2017, Hasson references right-wing domestic terrorist Eric Rudolph, who spent time in the army and is currently in prison for perpetrating a series of bombings in the 1990s motivated by anti-abortion and anti-gay sentiment. Former active service members such as Wade Michael Page and Frazier Glenn Miller have committed terror attacks after spending years immersed in this country’s racist radical right.
A drug investigation
The FBI was turned on to Hasson as part of a drug investigation.
FBI Special Agent Alexandria M. Thoman wrote in an affidavit that Hasson, while stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, was in contact with a drug dealer since at least 2016 and purchased the addictive painkiller Tramadol.
Hasson also used email to buy and swap guns and purchase kits to help him hide his drug use when he took a urinalysis test.
At the time of his arrest, the FBI lodged federal firearms and drug charges.
“The current charges, however, are the proverbial tip of the iceberg,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas P. Windom wrote. “The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride said in a statement that Hasson worked in the Coast Guard acquisition directorate and confirmed the arrest.
He declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Photo from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland