x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Assassination plot targeting Obama disrupted

Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Barack Obama.

Daniel Gregory Cowart, 20, left, and Paul Michael Schlesselman, 18, right, in photographs taken by the Crockett County Sheriff's Department in Tennessee.
Daniel Gregory Cowart, 20, left, and Paul Michael Schlesselman, 18, right, in photographs taken by the Crockett County Sheriff's Department in Tennessee.

WASHINGTON // Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, US authorities said. In all, the two men whom officials described as neo-Nazi skinheads planned to kill 88 people - 14 by beheading, according to documents unsealed in US District Court in Jackson, Tennessee. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The spree, which initially targeted an unidentified predominantly African-American school, was to end with the two men driving toward Obama, "shooting at him from the windows," the documents show. "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."

An Obama spokeswoman travelling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment. Sheriffs' deputies in Crockett County, Tennessee, arrested the two suspects - Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, on Oct 22 on unspecified charges. "Once we arrested the defendants and suspected they had violated federal law, we immediately contacted federal authorities," said Crockett County Sheriff Troy Klyce.

The two were charged by federal authorities yesterday with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president. Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested. Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more. 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.

The numbers 14 and 88 are symbols in skinhead culture, 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." * AP