A grand jury has indicted a U.S. Coast Guard officer who’s painted by prosecutors as a self-avowed white nationalist with a hit list of Democrats and media personalities.
Although federal authorities last week described Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, as “a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life,” Wednesday’s indictment was limited to charges that he was a drug addict who unlawfully possessed both a controlled substance and a firearm, plus owning an illegal gun silencer.
Hasson, of Silver Spring, Maryland, was arrested on Feb. 15 and maintains his innocence. His public defender, Liz Oyer, declined to comment Wednesday.
In a motion filed last week to keep Hasson in custody pending trial, prosecutors warned that the gun and drug-related charges were “the tip of the proverbial iceberg.”
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said in a statement Wednesday that the probe continues and evidence is still being gathered.
Law enforcement searched Hasson’s “cramped basement apartment" in Maryland this month and found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition, according to court filings.
Authorities also wrote that he bought guns, ammo, smoke grenades, magazines and other supplies from vendors across the United State and he’s “espoused extremist views for years.”
Hasson remains on active duty until his case is adjudicated, according to Lt. Cmdr. Scott McBride, a Coast Guard spokesman.
Hasson worked on the National Security Cutter program and held a secret-level security clearance from 2005 until Feb. 19, when it was suspended, McBride told Navy Times in an email.
“There was no evidence of this in Mr. Hasson’s prior (security clearance check) investigations,” McBride said.
The Coast Guard Investigative Service began probing Hassan’s alleged activities last fall after the service’s Insider Threat Program “first identified concerns about him” McBride said.
“The FBI and CGIS arrested him once they were confident in the strength of the evidence supporting the criminal complaint and warrant,” McBride said.
Hasson conducted online searches for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature between 2017 and 2019, and took inspiration from the manifesto of Anders Breivik, a far right-wing domestic terrorist who killed 77 people — mostly children — in two coordinated attacks in Norway in 2011, according to the filing.
Breivik’s manifesto provides “a blueprint for future single cell or ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist operations,” federal authorities wrote.
Prosecutors, however, did not specify a date for when Hasson allegedly planned to kick off the massacre.
Consistent with Breivik’s manifesto, however, Hasson “began the process of targeting specific victims, including current and former elected officials” in January, according to the filing.
Hasson’s online activity since early 2017 showed him conducting internet searches for phrases such as, “most liberal senators,” “where do most senators live in dc,” “do senators have ss [secret service] protection” and “are supreme court justices protected,” authorities wrote.
According to the federal filings, Hasson allegedly researched MSNBC host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough “after viewing a headline claiming that Scarborough referred to the President as ‘the worst ever,’” and after some online digging located the celebrity’s prior home “and then proceeded to scroll in and out on the location for approximately 35 seconds.”
Prosecutors contend that on Jan. 17, Hasson also “compiled a list of prominent Democratic Congressional leaders, activists, political organizations, and MSNBC and CNN media personalities,” according to the filing.
Hasson allegedly "developed this list in the above spreadsheet while reviewing the MSNBC, CNN, and FOX News websites…from his work computer,” the filing states.
The same day he made the list, prosecutors say Hasson used the search engine Google for the following phases:
• “what if trump illegally impeached”
• “best place in dc to see congress people”
• “where in dc to (sic) congress live”
• “civil war if trump impeached.”
Hasson regularly perused the manifesto from early 2017 until his arrest this month, focusing on the sections offering advice on amassing guns, food, disguises and survival supplies, the filing states.
In a June 2017 draft email, he allegedly wrote about “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” the filing states: “Interesting idea the other day. Start with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply…Have to research this.”
Hasson was initially charged with possession of the opioid Tramadol, and he allegedly spoke in his draft email of coming off the drug to “clear my head,” the filing states.
He cited the writings of Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph and pondered becoming a sheriff, city manager, mayor or other position that would get him leading a community, prosecutors allege.
Hasson also wrote of copying tactics from Ukraine’s civil war and attacking people on both sides of a partisan divide to stoke tensions and escalate violence, according to the filing.
He also plotted attacks on food and fuel supplies and masquerading as a police officer to gun down looters and protesters, prosecutors say.
“I can’t just strike to wound I must find a way to deliver a blow that cannot be shaken off,” he wrote, according to the filing. “Maybe many blows that will cause the needed turmoil.”
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.