Christopher Paul Hasson, 49, was arrested last week on drug and gun charges, but prosecutors filed court papers Tuesday describing him as a domestic terrorist who "intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country."
Prosecutor Jennifer Sykes told a Maryland federal court judge the charges were just the "tip of the iceberg." She outlined Hasson's plot to carry out a mass killing, citing internet searches on potential victims and the arsenal of weapons and ammunition found in his basement Silver Spring apartment.
Hasson's lawyer pushed for Hasson's release from jail, arguing the case was thin and saying "perceived danger has to be based on facts, not innuendo."
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Judge Charles Day sided with prosecutors and ordered Hasson held without bail but instructed them to return in 14 days to make the case for keeping Hasson behind bars.
Hasson, who was wearing a burgundy-colored jail uniform, said nothing during the hearing.
Prosecutors say Hasson, a self-avowed white nationalist, compiled an extensive kill list comprised of high-profile media personalities, including MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough, Chris Hayes and Ari Melber, as well as CNN's Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and Van Jones. Hasson was also plotting to target judges and professors—"leftists in general," he wrote in a letter found on his computer, court papers say.
Prosecutors say the list named several Democratic politicians including Senators Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal, who was referred to as "Sen blumen jew."
A draft email found on Hasson's computer laid out in stark terms the carnage he aspired to bring, court papers say.
"I am dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth," it read, according to court papers. "I think a plague would be most successful but how do I acquire the needed/ Spanish flu, botulism, anthrax not sure yet but will find something."
Starting in early 2017, prosecutors said, Hasson regularly consulted the 1,500-page manifesto written by Anders Breivik, the white supremacist Norwegian terrorist who killed 77 people in 2011. Breivik called for violence against leading liberal figures in the hope of sparking a race war to topple governments that were open to Muslim immigrants.
In Sept. 2017, Hasson sent himself a draft letter that he had written to a neo-Nazi leader and "identified himself as a White Nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for 'focused violence' in order to establish a white homeland," according to court papers.
Hasson, who works at the Coast Guard's headquarters in Washington, was arrested Feb. 15. Federal agents searching his apartment discovered 15 firearms, including several rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, court documents say.
Prosecutors said he was abusing the narcotic tramadol and, apparently following the advice of Breivik, had stockpiled 30 bottles of human growth hormone. The Norwegian mass murderer advised potential assailants to begin a six-week steroid cycle upon completing their preparation for a mass attack, the prosecutors noted.
Marianna Sotomayor is a 2020 campaign embed for NBC News.
Rich Schapiro is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.