Last night, the George Washington University Program on Extremism reported that federal authorities have arrested a 49-year-old Coast Guard Lieutenant, Christopher Paul Hasson, who was plotting to carry out terrorist attacks against socialist groups, Democratic Party politicians and media personalities.
Hasson is a neo-Nazi whose self-proclaimed idol is Anders Breivik, the Norwegian fascist terrorist who killed 77 people in a 2011 attack on a youth camp of the Norwegian Labour Party. A supporter of Donald Trump, Hasson was stockpiling a small arsenal of weapons and researching how to attack left-wing groups and how to prepare for civil war if the president is impeached.
Hasson is not a backcountry “lone wolf” but an officer who, until last week, was working at Coast Guard headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. According to court filings in the US District Court for the District of Maryland, Hasson was a Marine from 1988 to 1993 and then spent two years on active duty in the Army National Guard.
The first sentence of the filings reads, “The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”
These initial court documents only provide a small window into Hasson’s plans. What they do show is that Hasson was performing Google searches for socialist groups that he wanted to attack.
Prosecutors included a list of groups and public figures who Hasson wanted to target in their filings. These include the “DSA,” a reference to the Democratic Socialists of America, as well as DSA-aligned Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Hasson also wrote that “Sen blumen jew” was on his hit list, an apparent reference to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). Hasson included a number of mostly African-American and Jewish politicians and media personalities on his list of targets.
Since 2017, Hasson had been stockpiling weapons. His Silver Springs, Maryland residence was raided on February 15 and federal agents recovered 15 firearms, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition and an extensive electronic library of fascist propaganda.
Hasson was inspired by the 2017 Nazi attack at Charlottesville, Virginia, when a fascist drove into a crowd of protesters, killing anti-fascist protester Heather Heyer.
At the time, the court filing says Hasson wrote a letter to an unidentified leader of the American neo-Nazi movement in which Hasson says, “I am a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military… I fully support the idea of a white homeland.”
He wrote that “liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples (especially) white,” according to prosecutors. Hasson added, “No way to counteract without violence. It should push for more crack down bringing more people to our side. Much blood will have to be spilled to get whitey off the couch. For some no amount of blood will be enough. They will die as will the traitors who actively work toward our demise.”
Hasson also made thousands of visits to Nazi websites from January 2017 to January 2019.
The federal filing notes that Hasson was inspired by the “manifesto” written by Breivik before he carried out the 2011 attack.
Among the “deadly mistakes” Breivik lists in his manifesto, cited by prosecutors, is “to select an overwhelmingly protected individual as a target for assassination. Twelve failed attempts on an extremely well-protected individual could have alternatively been 12 successful attacks on lesser targets executing more than 50 primary targets. Targets should be influential media personalities—multicultural politicians, journalists/editors, cultural Marxist professors, Marxist writers/artists… Obviously, focus on individuals who do not have armed guards.”
This fascist detritus is the social layer that Trump is whipping up with his anti-immigrant and anti-socialist rants. On Monday, Trump declared before a crowd of extreme right-wing Cuban and Venezuelan exiles that “communism and socialism” must be defeated. “The twilight hour of socialism has arrived in our hemisphere,” he said, reading words written by his fascistic advisor Stephen Miller.
Trump has also intensified threats of physical violence against public figures who have spoken out in opposition to his presidency. Last week, Trump tweeted that he wanted “retribution” against Alec Baldwin, the actor who parodies Trump on Saturday Night Live. This clear incitement to physical violence was downplayed by the corporate press.
On October 27, 2018, a Trump supporter opened fire at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing eleven people and wounding seven in the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history. The killer stated explicitly in online statements that he was motivated by Trump’s attack on immigrants and that he wanted to make the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), of which Tree of Life was a part, pay the price for helping migrants.
“HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” he wrote. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
In August 2017, after the Charlottesville attack, Trump praised the neo-Nazi rioters as “very fine people” and denounced the “alt-left” for protesting the Nazis. “What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right, do they have any semblance of guilt?”
The arrest also raises questions about the prevalence of fascist and far-right forces within the US military.
It is difficult to believe the Coast Guard was unaware of Hasson’s fascist sympathies considering he worked in Coast Guard headquarters, would have been subject to detailed background checks and held fascist views for decades. In September 2018, the Coast Guard was forced to respond to widespread criticism when a Coast Guard member flashed a neo-Nazi hand symbol on television during Hurricane Florence.
While there is not a mass base for such attacks, these revelations are an urgent warning for the working class. The ruling class is cultivating fascist forces who are preparing acts of violence against the political left. A powerful movement from below must be built to defend the working class from the threats of these fascist thugs.