White supremacists busted in Obama assassination plot

From Reuters, Oct. 27:

Skinheads held over Obama death plot
WASHINGTON – Two white supremacist skinheads were arrested in Tennessee over plans to go on a killing spree and eventually shoot Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, court documents showed on Monday.

Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman were charged in a criminal complaint with making threats against a presidential candidate, illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a gun dealer.

The plot did not appear to be very advanced or sophisticated, the court documents showed.

“We’re unsure of their ability or if they have the wherewithal to carry out any of their threats,” said a source close to the investigation.


The suspects met over the Internet about a month ago, said an affidavit filed by Brian Weaks, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“The individuals began discussing going on a ‘killing spree’ that included killing 88 people and beheading 14 African Americans,” Weaks said in the affidavit.

The men stole guns from family members and also had a sawed-off shotgun. They planned to target a predominately black school, going state to state while robbing individuals and continuing to kill people, Weaks said in the affidavit.

“They further stated that their final act of violence would be to attempt to kill/assassinate presidential candidate Barack Obama,” he said.

The men planned to wear white tuxedos and top hats during the assassination attempt, which would have involved driving as fast as they could toward Obama and shooting him from the windows of the car.

They planned their first house robbery for October 22 but ended up leaving without breaking in. Instead they bought ski masks, food and rope to use in their robbery attempts.

They were arrested later that day and officials unsealed the court docket on Monday.

They wrote racially motivated words and symbols on the exterior of Cowart’s vehicle, including a Swastika and the numbers “14” and “88” on the hood of the car.

ATF special agent in charge James Cavanaugh said “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet and 88 stood for “Heil Hitler.”

“The U.S. Secret Service takes all threats against presidential candidates seriously and is actively investigating the allegations,” said Richard Harlow, special agent in charge of the Secret Service-Memphis Field Office. “The Secret Service does not comment on this type of investigation.”

Looks like someone is taking all the assassination calls which have followed the Palin trail to heart. Interestingly, the busts come just as a tasteless Halloween display on a West Hollywood home of Sarah Palin hanging in effigy is making a media splash. The Los Angeles Times reports Oct. 27 that the LA County Sheriff’s Department says it “does not rise to the level of a hate crime because it was a part of a Halloween display.”

It made much less of a splash when Barack Obama was hanged in effigy at Oregon’s “Christian” George Fox University a month ago. Local media like OregonLive.com (Sept. 24) were among the few to report it. And the fact that the Obama effigy incident had nothing to do with Halloween isn’t the only thing that makes it far more sinister. This country has a history of lynching Black people, not Alaska hockey moms. And it is the Palin campaign trail which has occasioned a paroxysm of death threats against Obama—not vice versa.

See our last posts on the presidential horse-race, October Surprise paranoia and the radical right.

  1. “Supreme White Alliance”?
    From AP, Oct. 29, links and emphasis added:

    Authorities say skinhead plot wasn’t fully formed
    BELLS, Tenn. — Two white supremacists charged with plotting to behead blacks across the country and assassinate Barack Obama while wearing white top hats and tuxes were likely too disorganized to carry out the plot, authorities said, and their planning was riddled with blunders.

    Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., and Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells are accused of dreaming up the plan. While authorities say they had guns capable of creating carnage, documents show they never got close to getting off the ground.

    Among the blunders: They drew attention to themselves by etching swastikas on a car with sidewalk chalk, only knew each other for a month, couldn’t even pull off a house robbery, and a friend ratted them out to authorities.

    “Certainly these men have some frightening weapons and some very frightening plans,” said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who studies the white supremacy movement. “But with the part about wearing top hats…it gets a bit hard to take them seriously.”


    The two met online about a month ago, introduced by a friend and bound by a mutual belief in white supremacy, according to an affidavit written by a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent who interviewed them. Together, they chatted about how they could carry out such a terroristic spree, officials said. Schlesselman volunteered a sawed-off shotgun that would be “easier to manuever,” and also took a gun from his father, according to an affidavit.

    The plot referenced two numbers important to skinhead culture by aiming to take the lives of 88 people, and 14 of them would be beheaded. The number 14 refers to a 14-word phrase attributed to an imprisoned white supremacist: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and to the eighth letter of the alphabet, H. Two “8”s or “H”s stand for “Heil Hitler.”

    But that may have been as detailed as it got. Last week, Cowart drove to pick up Schlesselman from his Arkansas home so the plot could begin, according to the affidavit. They decided to start with a house robbery, and asked a friend to drive them. But when they got to the driveway, they saw a dog and two vehicles, and got spooked.

    Armed with ski masks and nylon rope they purchased at a Wal-Mart, they tried again the next day to get started. Authorities say they decided to fire on the windows of a church, then bragged about it to a friend. She told her mother, who alerted the local sherriff. Investigators were able to trace the shell casings to the pair, and took them into custody after spotting their car, decorated with chalk-drawn swastikas and racially motivated words, along with the numbers “88” and “14.”

    Schlesselman’s family said Tuesday that it was unlikely he was seriously planning an attack, even though he expressed hatred for blacks. A high school dropout who was unsuccessful finding work, he often spent time on the computer, his 16-year-old sister, Kayla said. She said she often argued with him about his racial beliefs, and he would say things like “Obama would make the world suffer.”

    He hated his tiny Delta hometown of Helena-West Helena because it was predominantly black, she said.

    “He just believes that he’s the master race,” she said. “He would just say things like ‘white power’ and ‘Sieg Heil’ and ‘Heil Hitler.'”


    The Southern Poverty Law Center traced Cowart to the Supreme White Alliance, a skinhead hate group organized this spring that describes itself on its Web site as a “Club based on Racial beliefs. and for those of you who don’t know what that means, we are in fact Racist’s.”

    But the link doesn’t appear strong, and the group apparently kicked him out earlier this year. A post on the alliance’s Web site accused the law center of lying about the extent of its connection with Cowart, but acknowledged that “one of the two young men was in fact a probate earlier this year but was ousted.

    Potok, the law center’s intelligence director, said the alliance most likely broke ties with Cowart when he got arrested. He said Cowart is shown in a photograph of an April gathering to commemorate Hitler’s birthday.

    “The chances are excellent he was booted out when he was in the news in a way that didn’t reflect wonderfully on them,” Potok said.

    Attorneys for both men haven’t commented, but Schlesselman’s sister said Tuesday she spoke with him after the charges were made public. “He said he’s sorry about everything he’s done,” she said.

    The plot was the third high-profile incident involving death threats against Obama in the last three months.

    Raymond Hunter Geisel, 22, has pleaded not guilty to charges he threatened to assassinate Obama and President Bush. Authorities said Geisel kept an arsenal of weaponry and military gear and made the threats while attending a training class to become a bail bondsman.

    A group of men who sparked fears of an assassination plot against Obama during the Democratic Party’s presidential convention in Denver in August. Authorities said the men had guns and bulletproof vests and made racist threats against Obama, but were high on methamphetamine and posed no true danger.

    “Probate”? Huh? Why don’t you neo-Nazi fools consult a dictionary.

    The Anti-Defamation League provides further details on the origin of the “14” fetish:

    This numeral represents the phrase “14 words,” the number of words in an expression that has become the battle cry and rallying slogan for the white supremacist movement: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” This expression was coined by white supremacist David Lane while in prison serving essentially a life sentence for his role in The Order, a 1980s white supremacist terrorist group that conducted armed robberies, bombings, and assassinations. Lane died in prison in 2007.

    An undated August report from Little Rock’s KTHV news source informs us that part of Helena-West Helena was under curfew for much of this summer in response to gang violence—a measure that was protested by the Arkansas ACLU.