Coast Guard Lieutenant Charged with Targeting Lawmakers, Media, Held without Bail

GREENBELT, Md. (February 21, 2019)—A federal judge Thursday ordered a Maryland Coast Guard lieutenant held without bail as prosecutors gather more evidence of what they said was a terrorist plot to murder prominent Democratic politicians and media figures.

Christopher Hasson, 49, made his first public appearance at his detention hearing at the United States Federal Court Greenbelt Division. If the government fails to charge Hasson with any additional crimes within 14 days, the defense may motion for release, said Judge Charles B. Day.

Investigators arrested Hasson in his Silver Spring, Maryland, apartment Friday pursuant to a federal criminal complaint, according to court records filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.

Hasson was charged with "possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user or addict of controlled substances" and possession of Tramadol, prosecutors said.

Authorities seized 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of various ammunition types from Hasson's home, according to court records.

From February 2017 to April 2018, Hasson made 21 purchases of firearms and combat-related supplies like smoke grenades and a Kevlar plate carrier, according to court filings.

"The sheer number and force of the weapons that were recovered from Mr. Hasson's residence in this case coupled with the disturbing nature of his writings appear to reflect a very significant threat to the safety of our community, particularly given the position of trust that Mr. Hasson held with the United States Government," said Robert Hur, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland.

Since 2016, Hasson made 16 purchases of Tramadol—an opioid and controlled substance—from someone most likely in Mexico, prosecutors said. Investigators also found more than 30 containers labelled as human growth hormone inside a locked container in Hasson's apartment, according to court records.

Hasson is a lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard and works as an acquisition officer at the Coast Guard's Washington headquarters. He also served in the United States Marine Corps from 1988-1993 and the Army National Guard two years after that, according to court records.

Hasson has self-identified as a white nationalist for more than 30 years, according to a letter that investigators said he had drafted as an email and addressed to an American neo-Nazi leader. In his letter, Hasson called for the use of "focused violence" in order to establish white supremacy, prosecutors said.

Investigators discovered Hasson had been using Coast Guard computers to research and plan an attack, prosecutors said. Hasson allegedly had made Google searches about the security details and whereabouts of Democratic members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and well-known media figures.

Prosecutors alleged that Hasson had been following guidelines laid out in a manifesto written by Anders Breivik, who committed two terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011 that claimed the lives of 77 people.

Hasson allegedly targeted members of the media and government based on a categorical system prosecutors said he had taken from the Breivik manifesto.

No arraignment date was set.

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