BALTIMORE — A U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant living in Silver Spring is accused of planning a mass domestic terrorist attack in the United States.
FBI Baltimore field agents and Coast Guard investigative service agents arrested Christopher Paul Hasson last Friday and charged him with weapons and prescription drugs violations. Federal prosecutors said the current charges are "the proverbial tip of the iceberg," calling the Silver Spring man a "domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life."
Law enforcement agents found 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition in the basement of his Silver Spring apartment.
"This may represent sort of an inflection point in terms of domestic terrorism," Towson University assistant professor of political science Joseph Clark said.
Clark specializes in national security and says the recent arrest isn't surprising to him, that acts of domestic terrorism are historically more common than foreign-born terrorism and law enforcement has focused in on identifying suspects on U.S. soil in the last 15 years.
"Law enforcement has been focused. We may not be focused but they've been focused," Clark said.
Clark says people in the U.S. have instead been focused on foreign-born terrorism since the turn of the century, when in reality, domestic terrorism is the greater threat.
Investigators found deleted draft emails in Hasson's account that demonstrated extremist views. In one of the letters, Hasson refers to himself as a "long time White Nationalist" dating back 30 years.
"Political violence inside the United States by Americans against Americans is probably the larger threat we face. It's the more likely threat and it may be the more serious threat. He had very grand plans," Clark said.
Hasson is also believed to have made a list of targets for planned attacks. They included media personalities and Democratic Congressional leaders. 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) were among the names found in a list on Hasson's work computer.
A detention hearing for Hasson is scheduled for February 21 in Greenbelt, Md.