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Coast Guard Officer Accused Of Being A Domestic Terrorist


The FBI has arrested a Coast Guard lieutenant who lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. And the allegations against him are grim, to say the least. According to court documents, the suspect is a self-described white nationalist who stockpiled weapons and wrote that he wanted to kill as many people as possible. The suspect allegedly had a list of potential targets that included Democratic political leaders like Nancy Pelosi, as well as cable TV news anchors. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre is here to tell us more.

Hi, Greg.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: What do we know about the suspect?

MYRE: So his name is Christopher Paul Hasson. He's an active duty Coast Guard lieutenant, age 49. And he was working at the Coast Guard headquarters here in Washington for the past three years, had an office job. It was part of acquisitions. He did a lot of scheduling and fairly routine stuff. He's had a military career that dates back to the Marines and the Army National Guard in the '80s and '90s.

But he's also, it seems, a white nationalist. He's expressed neo-Nazi views. He's talked about being - written about being a skinhead for 30 years. And he feared the white race was being destroyed. And he was calling for a white homeland. The prosecutors call him a domestic terrorist. And the very first line of their court filing expresses how they think about him. The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.

MARTIN: Wow. What do we know about how they uncovered his plot?

MYRE: Well, we know the Coast Guard started investigating. We don't quite know what tipped them off, but they launched it. And then the FBI went to the Coast Guard headquarters and arrested Hasson last Friday in the parking lot.

They also went to his house, which is a basement apartment in Silver Spring, Md. - suburban Washington. And they found quite a cache of weapons there - 15 firearms, including pistols or handguns, rifles and semi-automatic weapons, more than a thousand rounds of ammunition. He had steroids and other narcotics he had been stockpiling - apparently thought this would make him stronger for an attack. And this stockpiling had gone on for about two years, it seemed.

MARTIN: What was the connection among all the people who he had listed as potential targets?

MYRE: It really seems they were quite critical of President Trump - these Democratic leaders that he'd been putting on a spreadsheet and also listing along with some of these cable news anchors. Often, he would just write one name. But it seemed quite clear he was talking about Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Tim Kaine, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and others. And then these cable hosts on CNN and MSNBC, sort of the evening hosts - Chris Hayes and Ari Melber at MSNBC, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo. And then there were more than 20 names altogether.

MARTIN: I understand that you were able to talk with at least one of the suspect's co-workers.

MYRE: Yeah, I did - a guy named Adam Stolsberg (ph). And he says that Hasson was sort of a normal, quiet guy. He didn't talk about things outside of work. He had a lot of tattoos. He drove a Harley. And they knew he'd been arrested last Friday. But they didn't know why. And he says he and, he's sure, others were really shocked when they heard this sort of bombshell announcement about the kind of charges that are being brought against Hasson.

MARTIN: Do we know, at this point, if he had any connections to any groups? Or was he acting alone...

MYRE: So...

MARTIN: ...Planning to act alone?

MYRE: As far as we know, not - he seemed to be acting alone.

MARTIN: All right. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre - thanks, Greg.

MYRE: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: February 20, 2019 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier headline on this Web file incorrectly said Christopher Paul Hasson faced domestic terrorism charges. He was initially arrested last week on illegal weapons and drug charges, but the court documents described him as a "domestic terrorist."
Greg Myre is a national security correspondent with a focus on the intelligence community, a position that follows his many years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts around the globe.