About three-and-a-half years ago, a man named Patrick Carlineo joined a brand-new Facebook group called “No Syrian refugees for NY.”
The group was created just a day before on Nov. 16, 2015, so Carlineo’s introductory message helped set the tone for what would become a small hub for hardcore nativism and ugly caricatures of Muslims.
“I’m flattered,” he wrote of being accepted into the group. “Lock and load America!”
On Friday, April 5, a 55-year-old Donald Trump supporter with the same name was arrested by the FBI in New York for allegedly threatening to kill Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., by putting “a bullet in her f------ skull.” Omar is a Somali refugee and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
In a federal affidavit, an FBI special agent wrote Carlineo called the congresswoman’s office on March 21 and made the threat.
“Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood?” Carlineo allegedly asked one of Omar’s staffers. “Why are you working for her? She’s a f------ terrorist. I’ll put a bullet in her f------ skull.”
When questioned by the FBI eight days later at his home in Addison, New York, Carlineo described himself as a patriot and said he was a supporter of President Donald Trump. According to the affidavit, he initially told FBI agents that he’d told Omar’s staff member, “If our forefathers were still alive, they’d put a bullet in her head.” But after being told that lying to the FBI is a crime, Carlineo said he could not remember precisely what he’d told the staffer.
Carlineo told the agents he had a shotgun and what was described in the affidavit as “a .22 caliber firearm” in his house.
The Facebook page under Carlineo’s name lists Corning, New York, as the place he lives. That’s about 11 miles from Addison, where the FBI agents interviewed him.
The Facebook page shows a number of posts dating back to at least 2014 that display similar rhetoric to what was outlined in the federal affidavit as well as an affinity for conspiracy theories and racism that align with the antigovernment “Patriot” movement.
In February 2014, the Facebook page under Carlineo’s name posted a variation on a meme popular within the world of antigovernment extremism. The meme showed a picture of a bullet. The text read: “Our forefathers did not politely protest the British. They did not vote them out of office, nor did they impeach the king, march on the capitol or ask permission for their rights. They f------ shot them.”
Along with the meme, the owner of the Patrick Carlineo page included commentary about Barack Obama, who was president at the time.
“This president has changed this country for the worse,” the person wrote. “With all the scandals he’s pulled any white president would be impeached. Keep all your heads up your asses sheeple. If you don’t want your kids living in a FEMA camp you had better wake up and do something.”
The notion of so-called FEMA camps is a foundational component of the New World Order conspiracy theory – that the government will disarm Americans and usher them into concentration camps run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and surrender American sovereignty to a cabal of international socialists.
The Facebook account under Carlineo’s name returned to the FEMA camp idea in March 2014 with a post of a map of the U.S. that supposedly showed 800 “concentration camps in America.”
“These camps are to be operated by FEMA should Martial Law need to be implemented,” said the text below the map.
Also in March 2014, the Facebook account posted a meme that included photos of several Muslim figures and policymakers. The meme described the men pictured as “the new boys in the Soetoro Regime.” The name Soetoro was part of the racist birther conspiracy theory that claimed President Obama, the nation’s first black president, was not a natural-born U.S. citizen and had used fake documents in his path to the Oval Office. The birther conspiracy theory was spread by Trump years before he ran for president.
“Muslim pigs,” was written under the photo of that meme.
That same month, the account posted a photoshopped picture of Obama wearing a headscarf. The words “Muslim Brotherhood Member” accompanied the image.
In November 2017, the person behind the same Facebook account posted what appeared to be a complaint about black professional football players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police violence.
“So why wasn’t the National Anthem offensive when obama was president? F--- the NAAPC,” it read, with an apparent misspelling for the acronym for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
A relative chastised the writer in the comments of the post.
“Nephew, it’s the NAACP,” the relative wrote. “You have a lot of hate built up in you. would you like a Xanax?”
Carlineo’s Facebook account responded with a racist rant that described black people as gorillas and Obama as a “Muslim plant”:
No I just get sick of hearing the anti-Trump silverbacks crying every f------ day about bullshit. The NAACP is a bunch of racist motherf------ that act like they just came out of the cotton fields. This president has done more by himself than the muslim did in 8 years. So tired of hearing the lies. It's not hate Uncle Pete, it’s just hearing enough of the resistance antifa f---, etc. Democrats only obstruct, that’s not what our founding fathers wanted I’m sure. You guys still cheerlead for a muslim plant that gave Iran 150 billion in cash, went and played golf with a smirk when that guy was burned alive. Hard to believe you would support a man that hates Christians. But he is a good speaker.
More recently, the Facebook page included a complaint about being censored by Facebook and locked out of the account for brief periods of time.
“Just got out of facebook jail after 30 days,” the February 2018 post read, adding a misspelled dig at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg: “Blow me Zuckerburg security.”
At a House Judiciary Committee hearing about hate crimes and white nationalism this week, Facebook’s public policy director, Neil Potts, testified about the difficulty of moderating content on the site.
“We believe in embracing diverse views,” Potts said in prepared testimony. “Unless we are confronted with a specific potential harm, we tend to err on the side of allowing content, even when some people find it objectionable or offensive. These can be difficult decisions, and we will not get them all right, but we strive to apply our policies consistently and fairly to a global and diverse community.”
A hearing on whether to continue to detain Carlineo is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16, according to New York television station WETM. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Photo illustration by SPLC