ATF agents said Monday that they have broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 88 black people.
In court records unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn., agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives said the duo planned to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school in a murder spree that was to begin in Tennessee, reports the Associated Press.
The skinheads did not reveal the name of the high school, but said they wanted to kill 88 African-Americans, including 14 by beheading. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community, referring 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.”
The men also sought to go on a national killing spree after the Tennessee murders, leading up to an assassination of Obama as their final deed, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.
“They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying,” Cavanaugh said.
The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., are charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president. They are being held without bond.
Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested Oct. 22 by the Crockett County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office. Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more.
The court records say Cowart and Schlesselman also bought nylon rope and ski masks to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund their spree, during which they allegedly planned to go from state to state and kill people.
For the Obama plot, legal documents show Cowart and Schlesselman “planned to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows.”
“Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt,” the court complaint states. “Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt.”
The court documents say the two men met about a month ago on the Internet and found common ground in their shared “white power” and “skinhead” philosophy.