A Coast Guard member accused of plotting a terror spree had ties to the white power scene for decades. But it was amid a rise in white supremacist activity under President Donald Trump that he allegedly planned mass murder.
In court filings this week, prosecutors accused white supremacist Christopher Hasson of planning “to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” Hasson is only charged with drug and weapons offenses. But the court filings this week argue to keep him behind bars until trial, on the grounds that he is a domestic terrorist who poses an immediate threat to human life. That threat appears to be recent. Hasson, 49, allegedly began plotting elements of the attack in 2017, despite links to the white supremacist movement since at least 2002.
Court filings include drafted emails Hasson allegedly wrote in June 2017. “I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth,” he wrote, according to the filings. He went on to comment on possible biological weapons he could use to unleash mass killings and provoke race war.
Hasson’s involvement in white supremacy goes back decades. An advertisement for a pitbull links Hasson to an active white supremacist in the early 2000s. Twice in March 2002, a frequent commenter on the white supremacist forum Stormfront asked if anyone wanted to adopt an aggressive dog.
“A sister of mine in New Jersey does pitbull rescues,” the Stormfront poster, who frequently advertised the group Women for Aryan Unity, wrote in two identical posts, in different parts of the site. It is unclear whether the “sister” was a biological relative. Women in the white power movement sometimes refer to each as “sister.”
The Stormfront user said her “sister” had written that “I have a 2 year old red&white red nose pitbull that I am DESPERATELY trying to find a home for.She is about 48lbs,really nice,medium sized dog,spayed,some obedience work,but MUST BE ONLY ANIMAL in home.VERY DOG AGGRESSIVE!!!!If you can think of anyone that might like her,please pass my numberalong to anyone.”
The Stormfront user included the sister’s email address. That address appears to have belonged to Hasson’s wife Shannon. The name in the address, “Killmara,” is a portmanteau of the couple’s two children’s names.
The Hassons also used the name for the Staffordshire bull terriers they bred and sold at the time, according to 2001 Infodog records for a dog named “Killmara’s Alli-gator.” Registered purebred dogs often have long official names that reference their breeder. Staffordshire bull terriers are commonly classified as pitbulls, like the rescue pitbull the Stormfront user advertised.
The Stormfront user appears to have adopted one of the Hasson’s purebred dogs. In August 2002, she posted a picture of a Staffordshire terrier that used the Killmara name (albeit one with racist overtones). “We only have one pet right now a english staffordshire terrior named Killmara's White Celtic Envy aka TANK hahaha,” she wrote above a picture of the Staffordshire puppy.
Shannon Hasson could not be reached for comment, and does not appear to have posted on Stormfront. But her alleged communications and sale of a dog to an out-of-state organizer for a women’s white power group are notable in the context of her husband’s alleged writings.
Court filings reveal Christopher Hasson drafted a September 2017 email to a prominent American neo-Nazi. “To date I have read most of your books and briefly looked at your website,” Hasson wrote. “I am a long time White Nationalist, having been a skinhead 30 plus years ago before my time in the military.”
In a Thursday court appearance, Hasson’s lawyer confirmed the email was intended for Harold Covington, a recently deceased white nationalist who advocated carving a white ethnostate out of several states in the Pacific Northwest. Particularly active in the 1970s and '80s, Covington was among white supremacy’s “old guard,” the Southern Poverty Law Center writes.
Hasson’s message also implied that he had previously committed a crime that was known by someone in white supremacist circles. Mentioning rumors that Covington was a government informant, Hasson added that “the person who told me this served a 12 year prison sentence and never ratted me out so I will not dispute him nor will I accuse you.”
Hasson’s apparent admiration for Covington suggests a connection to the “old guard” of white supremacy, rather than the new crop of neo-Nazi figureheads who became popular with the rise of the alt-right movement. The alt-right closely tied its message to web culture, trafficking in racist memes and 4chan humor, rather than the Web 1.0 stylings of older white supremacist forums like Stormfront. The alt-right also charted its rise alongside Donald Trump. The movement’s most public moment, a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, came months after Trump’s inauguration.
In his unsent email to Covington seven weeks after the Charlottesville rally, Hasson appeared to distinguish himself from the alt-right set. “I never say a reason for mass protest or wearing uniforms marching around provoking people with swastikas ect.,” he wrote. But he did not disavow extreme violence. In the letter he called for violence in order to establish a white ethnostate.
And while he claimed aesthetic differences from the alt-right movement, Hasson apparently shared their affinity for Trump, and appears to have been spurred into action after his election.
On January 17, 2019, he allegedly Googled “what if trump illegally impeached,” “best place in dc to see congress people,” “where in dc to congress live,” “civil war if trump impeached,” and “social democrats usa.” That same day, he allegedly compiled a hit list of prominent Democrat figures like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, political organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America, and Trump-maligned media outlets like CNN.
Those apparent steps toward a violent attack followed two years of Hasson obtaining guns and searching for extremist literature. Court filings show him making at least 21 purchases from firearm and explosive dealers beginning February 2017.
“From January 2017 to January 2019, the defendant conducted online searches and make [sic] thousands of visits for pro-Russian, neo-fascist, and neo-Nazi literature,” court filings read. At the same time, he allegedly made frequent returns to a manifesto by Anders Breivik, a Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people in two racist attacks in 2011.
Hasson appears to have followed Breivik’s guidelines for mass attacks, as well as his recommendations on steroid use.
One of Hasson’s June 2017 drafted emails appears to mirror Breivik’s ambitions of leaving behind a manifesto addressed to other murderous white supremacists online.
“Dear friends,” the draft began. “Maybe that’s a bit of a misnomer. Acquaintances more likely. Hope this finds you well. I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”