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Weekend Read: What if the FBI hadn't caught the Coast Guard officer with a hit list and weapons?

He called himself “a man of action” — but luckily, he never got a chance to prove it.

The FBI arrested active-duty U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson last week, labeling him a domestic terrorist who pushed for a “white homeland.”

Hasson had a hit list of Democratic politicians and media figures that included U.S. Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Richard Blumenthal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Vice President Joe Biden, and MSNBC hosts Ari Melber, Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough.

“Where do most senators live in dc [sic],” he searched online, as well as “Most liberal senators [sic],” and “are supreme court justices protected [sic].”

FBI agents found a stockpile of weapons, including assault rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in Hasson’s home in Maryland.

He self-identified as a white nationalist, and admired Norwegian domestic terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in a rampage over Muslim immigration. He wrote about using steroids before his planned assault; the FBI found a locked container with more than 30 bottles of human growth hormone (HGH).

“I never saw a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas etc.,” Hasson wrote to a longtime neo-Nazi. “I was and am a man of action you cannot change minds protesting like that.”

Hasson’s apparent readiness to kill for his racist cause puts him in familiar — and deadly — company.

In 2018, at least 40 people in the U.S. and Canada were killed by individuals who were either motivated by or attracted to far-right ideologies.

That included the shooting in Parkland, Florida; the van attack in Toronto; the massacre at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and a brutal stabbing outside a Pittsburgh nightspot.

We enumerated those attacks and others in the Spring issue of the Intelligence Report in a piece called “The ‘Alt-Right' Is Still Killing People."

“That 2018 became the deadliest yet confirms the danger posed by alt-right propaganda and its widespread circulation enabled by social media platforms,” the article explains.

Authorities say Hasson searched online for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature.

As Keegan Hankes wrote in another piece in our Spring issue of the Intelligence Report, “Tech companies fail to take seriously the hate brewing on their platforms, waiting until hate-inspired violence claims its next victim before taking meaningful enforcement action.”

As white supremacy flourishes amid the movement’s fears of the nation’s shifting demographics, it’s more critical than ever that Silicon Valley and law enforcement alike take seriously the threat of far-right extremism. 

As it stands now, there is no sign that the violence — all too common in the last several years — will let up.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week:

SPLC's Weekend Reads are a weekly summary of the most important reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequity, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive Weekend Reads every Saturday morning.