February 20, 2019 / 11:37 PM / 8 months ago

U.S. arrests Coast Guard officer who planned mass attack: prosecutors

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have arrested a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who described himself as a white nationalist and amassed a cache of weapons to “murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” according to court documents.

Christopher Paul Hasson, who is assigned to the Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington and lives in a Maryland suburb, had drawn up a list of possible targets, including House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and MSNBC television host Joe Scarborough, prosecutors said in court documents.

Calling Hasson a “domestic terrorist,” the prosecutors said he was arrested on Friday on weapons and drugs charges.

In a draft email in June 2017, they said, Hasson wrote: “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.”

A hearing on a motion to detain him pending trial was set for Thursday.

In a statement, the Coast Guard confirmed that an active duty member of the service had been arrested. “Because this is an open investigation, the Coast Guard has no further details at this time,” it said.

The Office of the Federal Public Defender in Maryland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prosecutors said agents found 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in Hasson’s residence in Silver Spring, Maryland.

They said from 2017, Hasson routinely studied a manifesto by Norwegian far-right extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who in July 2011 killed eight people in downtown Oslo with a car bomb and then shot dead 69 people, many of them teenagers, at a Labour Party camp.

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham and Eric Beech; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Cynthia Osterman

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