By Danny R. Johnson – Washington, DC Correspondent
BALTIMORE, MD – The U.S. Attorney’s Office of Maryland filed a motion in court on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, providing evidence why former U.S. Coast Guard officer and self-professed white supremacist, Lt. Christopher Hasson, 49, accused of planning a widespread terrorist attack on politicians and media personalities in the Washington area, should remain locked up in jail. According to court documents, Federal prosecutors stated Hasson conducted Internet searches for the most lethal weapons to kill African Americans and the home addresses of two Supreme Court justices before going to firearms sales websites.
Hasson has been charged with illegal possession of firearms by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances, unlawful possession of unregistered and unmarked silencers, and simple possession of a controlled substance.
Federal prosecutors argued in the court filing that Hasson “is a dangerous threat to society and continues to pose a danger…and should not be granted bail.” Prosecutors also argued that one of the weapons confiscated from Hasson’s home in Silver Springs, Maryland, involved the suspected illegal possession of silencers, which is illegal in Maryland, reflects what they say is a coordinated plot for destruction by a self-professed neo-Nazi.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom wrote in a motion saying: “The silencers serve one purpose: to murder quietly, and the defendant intended to do so on a mass scale, and his detention has thwarted his unlawful desire.”
Hasson’s Federal public defender declined to comment Tuesday regarding the cache of weapons seized and their intended purpose, but in Hasson’s first detention hearing, his attorney at the time called the government’s accusations “inflammatory and speculative” without evidence of a plot to kill African Americans on a mass scale as the Federal government is alleged. Hasson’s Federal public defender has argued that the government has no proof Hasson intended to launch an attack and that it would be inappropriate to keep him in jail on drug and weapons charges.
Federal prosecutors say that Hasson’s Internet searches clearly “exposes his views on race, which in turn inform his criminal conduct.” Federal court documents outlined how Hasson searched the Internet for “white homeland,” “when are whites going to wake up,” and “please god let there be a race war” in 2017.
According to the Washington Post, prosecutors allege Hasson had been amassing weapons for an attack since at least 2009, buying weapons from California and Virginia. The court filings stated Hasson allegedly purchased parts for silencers in July 2017 and used a drill press later found in his home during a search warrant, to assemble the silencer of “clandestine manufacture,” prosecutors allege in court documents. Prosecutors also outlined what they said was Hasson’s history of associating with neo-Nazis and “skinheads” as reasons he should remain jailed.
Prosecutors believe there is a connection between Hasson and his affinity with the racist/white supremacist ideological of a known Norwegian terrorist: “It cannot go unnoticed that the terrorist who perpetrated the New Zealand attacks in March 2019 was a devotee of far-right Norwegian domestic terrorist Anders Breivik — from whom, as discussed in the Motion for Detention, the defendant also took criminal direction.”
White Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist Groups are Increasing
The debate in the United States among law enforcement officials is centering on whether Federal law and law enforcement are too focused on Islamic terrorism and not paying enough attention to the rise in white far right-wing extremism. In fact, according to data provided by the Washington Post, more domestic terrorist targets are being charged, and in both categories, law enforcement officials often leverage more straightforward crimes, such as violations of gun or drug laws, to prevent violence.
The arrest in March of Hasson is the latest example of this pattern. However, as with most people arrested in FBI counterterrorism investigations, Hasson does not yet face terrorism charges. Instead, he was indicted on charges of illegal possession of firearm silencers, possession of firearms by a drug addict and unlawful user, and possession of a controlled substance.
Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President Donald Trump took office.