The white nationalist motivations of alleged domestic terrorist Christopher Paul Hasson are plain to see.
Hasson, a U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant who was arrested last Friday on a drugs and gun charge, had compiled a hit list of prominent Democratic lawmakers, dreamed of using biological weapons against his enemies, and amassed an arsenal of more than a dozen weapons.
“The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,” the federal detention motion reads. “The defendant is a domestic terrorist, bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct.”
The motion does not lay out an exact pathway for how Hasson was radicalized, although phrases and tropes within the document clearly show that the online far-right ecosystem had a major role to play in helping Hasson develop his terrorist plot.
According to the motion, between 2017 and 2019, Hasson “conducted online searches and [made] thousands of visits for pro-Russian, neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature.” He was also inspired by Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian far-right terrorist who killed 77 people in two attacks in 2011, most of them teenagers. In Breivik’s manifesto he declared the attack to be against “Cultural Marxists,” who were trying to bring about the “Islamization” of Europe.
Because of Breivik’s motivations and the number of people he killed, he has been widely idolized and memeticized by the online far-right. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, Breivik is also regularly glorified on far-right Tumblr pages.
Some of the language that Hasson uses also points to online far-right radicalization, specifically in a draft letter from June 2017 presented as evidence in the motion:
“Liberalist/globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples esp white… Looking to Russia with hopeful eyes or any land that despises the west’s liberalism… I don’t know if there truly is a “conspiracy” of (((((People)))) out to destroy me and mine, but there is an attack none the less.”
As Mic has previously noted, the use of multiple parentheses has evolved into a far-right meme used to mock harass Jewish people or point to supposed Jewish control over the world. The meme first became popularized in 2014 by the Daily Shoah, a far-right and rabidly anti-Semitic podcast run by white nationalist Mike Enoch.
The use of the word “Globalist” is also a noted far-right catchphrase, used at length by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as well as former White House adviser Steve Bannon. The term is meant to refer to those advocating a grand conspiracy to subvert countries, often through immigration. Unsurprisingly the main “globalist” enemy for the far-right is liberal billionaire George Soros, whom Republicans, including President Donald Trump and Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), have accused of funding migrant caravans.
Last October, an explosive device was mailed to Soros by Cesar Sayoc, a Trump fan who also sent pipe bombs to CNN and prominent Democrats — similar targets to the ones that Hasson was reportedly compiling.
News of Hasson’s arrest came on the same day that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published their annual report, which warned not only that hate groups were at a record high but also that tech companies were lagging far behind in their efforts to police far-right content.
“Highly motivated hate groups are metastasizing on the internet and social media despite warnings from civil rights organizations, victims of harassment and bigotry online, and those involved in increasingly deadly tragedies,” the report noted. “Tech companies do
not fully understand hate groups and how they affect users.”
This is not the first time that white nationalism has been discovered within the ranks of the U.S. military either. In 2011, four soldiers in Fort Stewart, GA, were arrested for forming an anti-government militia and plotting to murder President Barack Obama. In 2017, a bodyguard employed by white supremacist Richard Spencer was exposed as a member of the Alabama National Guard. That same year, a poll by the Military Times found that 42 percent of soldiers had seen some form of white nationalism in the ranks.