A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant and self-identified white nationalist was arrested after federal investigators uncovered a cache of weapons and ammunition in his Maryland home that authorities say he stockpiled to launch a widespread domestic terrorist attack targeting politicians and journalists.
“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” the government said in court documents filed this week, arguing that Hasson should stay in jail awaiting trial.
Hasson, 49, of Silver Spring, is expected to appear before a judge for a detention hearing in federal court in Greenbelt at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Hasson was arrested Friday on charges of illegally possessing weapons and drugs, but the government said those charges are the “proverbial tip of the iceberg.” Officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland outlined Hasson’s alleged plans to spark chaos and destruction, describing in court documents a man obsessed with neo-fascist and neo-Nazi views.
“Please send me your violence that I may unleash it onto their heads,” Hasson wrote in a letter that prosecutors said was found in his email drafts. “Guide my hate to make a lasting impression on this world.”
A magistrate judge ordered the federal public defender’s office to represent Hasson; that office declined to comment Wednesday.
Hasson has been working at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in Washington since 2016, according to court documents filed by prosecutors. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993 and in the Army National Guard for about two years in the mid-1990s, the filings state.
Agents with the FBI field office in Baltimore and the Coast Guard Investigative Service arrested Hasson, FBI Baltimore spokesman Dave Fitz confirmed.
A Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, said Wednesday that Hasson no longer works at Coast Guard headquarters.
“An active duty Coast Guard member stationed at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was arrested last week on illegal weapons and drug charges as a result of an ongoing investigation led by Coast Guard Investigation Services, in cooperation with the FBI and the Dept. of Justice,” McBride said in a statement. McBride declined to comment further, citing the open investigation.
Court documents do not detail what prompted federal law enforcement to begin investigating Hasson but contend that Hasson had been studying the 1,500-page manifesto of right-wing terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who unleashed two attacks in 2011 that killed 77 people in Norway, and echoed Breivik’s attack preparations.
The manifesto outlined how Breivik planned and prepared his attacks with the aim of providing a road map for others planning similar terrorist operations, the U.S. court filings say.
Breivik took steroids and narcotics, believing it would heighten his abilities to carry out attacks. When law enforcement raided Hasson’s apartment, they said they found a locked container loaded with more than 30 vials of what appeared to be human growth hormone. He has also ordered more than 4,200 pills of the narcotic Tramadol since 2016, along with synthetic urine to allegedly bypass possible random drug screenings at work, they said.
Breivik encouraged identifying targets and traitors. In recent weeks, according to the court filings, Hasson developed a spreadsheet of targets that included top Democratic congressional leaders and media personalities. The list includes “JOEY,” what prosecutors say is a reference to former congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), now of MSNBC; “cortez,” an alleged reference to freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.); and “Sen blumen jew,” presumably about Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
Authorities seized 15 firearms, including several long guns and rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition from his cramped basement apartment after executing a search warrant this month. Over the past two years, he had made nearly two dozen purchases of firearms or related equipment and made thousands of visits to websites selling weapons or tactical gear.
The filing was first reported Wednesday afternoon by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.
Authorities said Hasson has harbored extremist views for years.
“The defendant is a domestic terrorist,” the government said in court filings, “bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
In an email drafted in June 2017, he contemplated biological attacks and targeting food supplies, according to the court filings. He considered the merits of a “bombing/sniper campaign.” And he included a “Things to do” list that mentioned purchasing land “out west or possibly NC mtns” for family and researching tactics used during the civil war in Ukraine.
“During unrest target both sides to increase tension,” Hasson wrote in the email, according to the court filings. “In other words provoke gov/police to over react which should help to escalate violence. BLM protests or other left crap would be ideal to incite to violence.”
In another letter drafted months later to an American neo-Nazi leader, cited in the court filing, Hasson called for a “white homeland.” He sent the letter to himself nearly two months after the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, where torch-carrying white supremacists clashed with anti-racist protesters.
“I never saw a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas etc.,” Hasson said in the letter, according to court filings. “I was and am a man of action you cannot change minds protesting like that. However you can make change with a little focused violence.”
Hasson’s commitment to destruction appeared heightened in recent weeks, according to prosecutors. He created a list of “traitors” and targets on Jan. 19 in an Excel spreadsheet on his work computer, they said, which was created two days after he conducted several Internet inquiries:
8:54 a.m.: “what if trump illegally impeached”
8:57 a.m.: “best place in dc to see congress people”
8:58 a.m.: “where in dc to congress live”
10:39 a.m.: “civil war if trump impeached”
11:26 a.m.: “social democrats usa”
The arrest marks the second time that the service has responded to an incident involving alleged white supremacy in recent months. In September, the Coast Guard reprimanded a service member who flashed what some people identified as a white-supremacy sign in the background of a televised interview with another officer during the response to Hurricane Florence.
“We are aware of the offensive video on twitter — the Coast Guard has identified the member and removed him from the response,” the service said at the time in a tweet. “His actions do not reflect those of the United States Coast Guard.”
That individual was not identified.
Dan Lamothe and Alice Crites contributed to this report.