Coast Guard lieutenant accused of planning terror attack ordered detained for now

Prosecutors given 14 days to make stronger case
Posted at 3:24 PM, Feb 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-21 17:18:48-05

GREENBELT, Md. — The U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of making a hit list of high profile politicians and members of the media will be held without bail, for now.

Christopher Hasson, 49, was taken into custody last Friday by FBI Baltimore field agents and Coast Guard investigative service agents. Currently, Hasson faces drug and firearms related charges. But in its motion requesting Hasson be held without bail, the government wrote Hasson intended to "murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country."

During Thursday's detention hearing Hasson's attorneys argued he faced only two charges and neither were related to domestic terrorism. Prosecutors countered Hasson had made a hit list, acquired 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and studied the manifesto of Anders Breivik, the man convicted of carrying out two terror attacks in Norway that led to the deaths of 77 people.

Prosecutors called the initial charges only the "proverbial tip of the iceberg."

"The sheer number and force of the weapons 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," said U.S. Attorney Robert Hur following the hearing.

Among the evidence prosecutors gathered in the case were two emails in which Hasson wrote about his desire to carry out a mass attack and his white nationalist views.

RELATED: Coast Guard Lieutenant arrested, accused of planning terror attack

Investigators also recovered a hit list that included CNN and MSNBC personalities Chris Hayes, Ari Melber, Chris Cuomo and Democratic legislators House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Hasson's defense attorney, Julie Stelzig, argued the government was throwing a bunch of things against the wall and said this was an attempt on the government's part to "say, 'Look, we're not only targeting Muslims.'"

She pointed to Hasson's service record as a member of the Coast Guard and Marine Corps and disputed the writings, arguing without a plan there was no evidence Hasson was going to carry out an attack. She also argued that it's not a crime to think negative thoughts or write hostile things about people.

As for the firearms, Stelzig pointed out statistics that show the average American gun owner has eight firearms and called Hasson's collection, "modest at best."

In the end, the judge ordered Hasson held without bail, citing the weight of the evidence presented by prosecutors. But the judge ordered them to return within 14 days to provide additional evidence. He said if there is nothing new, he may consider releasing Hasson on bail based on the charges he currently faces.