Coast Guard lieutenant accused of murder plot 'on a scale rarely seen in this country'
A Coast Guard lieutenant arrested earlier this week on drug and gun charges was planning to commit domestic terrorism, according to a court filing from the U.S. District Court in Maryland.
In a motion filed Tuesday, U.S. attorneys said Christopher Hasson, a lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard who has served at the service’s headquarters in Washington since 2016, had a hit list of targets, a cache of guns and a series of communications with white supremacists. The first sentence in the motion imploring the court to detain Hasson pending trial: “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
Per the motion, he was arrested Feb. 15 on charges of possession of a firearm and ammunition by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances, as well as “simple possession” of an opioid. But, prosecutors write, these charges “are the proverbial tip of the iceberg.”
“The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
Per the court document, Hasson has been serving as an acquisitions officer at the Coast Guard’s D.C. headquarters since June of 2016. Though he has not received any tactical, weapons or explosives-related training in this position, the prosecutors note that Hasson served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993, followed by approximately two years of active duty with the Army National Guard. When authorities raided his residence earlier this month, they found 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition, the document says. His detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Greenbelt, Md. According to a separate court filing signed Feb. 15, Hasson will be represented by a public defender.
The filing was first reported by Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.
Prosecutors stated that since 2017 Hasson has “routinely perused” the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in two attacks in 2011. Hasson followed the instructions of the document, which tell “a prospective assailant to amass appropriate firearms, food, disguises, and survival supplies.”
On Jan. 17, Hasson allegedly compiled a list of targets including a number of Democratic politicians and left-leaning political commentators. The names on the list include “Sen blumen jew” (presumably Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.,) and “poca warren” (presumably Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.).
There are also references to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a long list of additional Democratic senators, including Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Tim Kaine, D-Va. The list also includes likely references to a number of House members (Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.), television hosts (Joe Scarborough and Chris Hayes of MSNBC, Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo of CNN), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and the Democratic Socialists of America.
On the same day he finished the list, the court filing says, Hasson completed the following Google searches over the course of three hours: “what if trump illegally impeached,” “best place in dc to see congress people,” “where in dc to congress live,” “civil war if trump impeached” and “social democrats usa.”
Hasson’s alleged online searches for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature, along with draft emails recovered from his email offer insight into what prosecutors describe as extremist views.
“I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” Hasson allegedly wrote in a draft email to “acquaintances” last June; in the email, he appears to outline a stream of possible ways — ranging from biological attacks to “bombing/sniper campaign” — to violently fight back against “Liberalist/Globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white.”
“It seems inevitable that we are doomed,” the email continues, with Hasson soliciting ideas for how he might “enlist the help of another power/country,” such as Russia “or any land that despises the west’s liberalism. Excluding of course the muslim scum,” conceding, “I don’t think I can cause complete destruction on my own.”
Among the list of things he seems to be instructing himself to do once he “comes off of TDL [tramadol],” the opioid he was charged with possession of, is taking a “serious look at appropriate individual targets, to bring greatest impact. Professors, DR’s, Politian’s, Judges, leftists in general.”
In another alleged draft email sent to himself in September 2017, Hasson apparently wrote to a well-known American neo-Nazi leader, identifying himself as “a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military.”
In addition to evidence of regular tramadol use, prosecutors also note that Hasson appeared to be stockpiling human growth hormone in accordance with part of the Breivik manifesto that recommends the use of narcotics to increase killing ability. Agents said they discovered a locked case filled with more than 30 bottles labeled “HGH” when they searched Hasson’s home.
Charges related to domestic terrorism in the United States have risen in recent years and, according to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center released earlier Wednesday, the number of hate groups operating in the country has reached an all-time high. Last fall, a Florida man was arrested for mailing 16 pipe bombs to critics of President Trump and prominent Democratic figures, and a gunman killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue that had supported refugees.
You can read the full filing below.
The federal public defender for the District of Maryland, who has been appointed to represent Hasson according to court documents, could not immediately be reached for comment.
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