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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Coast Guard Lieutenant Planned Domestic Terror ‘on a Scale Rarely Seen,’ Prosecutors Say

A Coast Guard lieutenant working in the D.C. headquarters as an acquisitions officer for the National Security Cutter Acquisition Program plotted “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” prosecutors said.

The court filing detailing an extremist history and emulation of Norwegian far-right mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was unearthed by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. The motion for detention pending trial was filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland this week for lesser charges: possession of a firearm and ammunition by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances.

Prosecutors stated that those charges constituted “the proverbial tip of the iceberg” as “the defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”

Included in the court filing was an Excel hit list that included media personalities from CNN and MSNBC, and both House and Senate Democratic lawmakers.

It also included a draft email allegedly written by 49-year-old Christopher Hasson of Silver Spring, Md., in which he said he had been a skinhead before his Coast Guard career and, previously, service in the Marine Corps.

Hasson began his assignment at Coast Guard Headquarters on June 7, 2016. In October of that year, prosecutors said, he began buying Tramadol “from an individual likely located in Mexico” and eventually became hooked on the potent opioid. “Need to come off TDL [Tramadol], clear my head,” he allegedly wrote in a June 2, 2017, draft email.

“I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth. I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something,” he allegedly also wrote in the email. “Interesting idea the other day. Start with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply… Have to research this. Two pronged attack seems it might be more successful. Institute a bombing/sniper campaign.”

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane said Hasson’s Feb. 15 arrest came “as a result of an ongoing investigation led by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, in cooperation with the FBI and Department of Justice.”

“Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time,” Lane said in a statement.

According to the court filing, Hasson stockpiled 15 guns and more than a thousand rounds of ammunition, and possessed a container with more than 30 bottles labeled as containing human growth hormone — in line with directions for mass killers in the Breivik manifesto.

Prosecutors argued that Hasson should be detained because “no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of any other person or the community writ large.”

“Gun rights people will never rise, need religious to stand up. Please send me your violence that I may unleash it onto their heads. Guide my hate to make a lasting impression on this world. So be it. 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 allegedly wrote, including the triple parentheses used by neo-Nazis and white nationalists to denote Jews. “For that reason I will strike, I can’t just strike to wound I must find a way to deliver a blow that cannot be shaken off. Maybe many blows that will cause the needed turmoil.”

In another draft email written just weeks after the deadly Charlottesville, Va., white nationalist rally, Hasson allegedly called for “focused violence” in order to establish a white homeland.

From January 2017 to January 2019, prosecutors say, he conducted online searches and made “thousands of visits for pro-Russian, neo-fascist, and neo-Nazi literature.”

“On February 26, 2018, the defendant performed the following internet searches: ‘most liberal senators’; ‘where do most senators live in dc’; ‘do senators have ss [secret service] protection’; and ‘are supreme court justices protected,'” the filing continues. “…On January 17, 2019, consistent with the types of people who Breivik identifies as ‘traitors’ and targets for an attack, the defendant compiled a list of prominent Democratic Congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities.”

In the list, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is referred to as “Blumenjew.” Prosecutors say Hasson developed the hit list spreadsheet “while reviewing the MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News websites, as well as other websites, from his work computer.”

On Jan. 17, Hasson also searched for “what if trump illegally impeached,” “best place in dc to see congress people,” “where in dc to congress live,” and “civil war if trump impeached,” the filing notes.

When law enforcement agents searched Hasson’s workspace on Feb. 15, the document states, agents found “many of the items” used to substitute heated synthetic urine “in the event he was randomly selected for a drug screening” on the job.

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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