Government Foils Skinhead Plot to Assassinate Obama
Skinheads planned to kill Obama and 102 others in Tennessee.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Federal agents have disrupted a plot to assassinate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate dozens of black students in Tennessee, the ATF said Monday.
In court records unsealed Monday, federal agents said they broke up plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.
A source in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told FOX News that the two skinheads, who were picked up in Crockett County, Tenn., were plotting to shoot 88 black students and decapitate 14 others described as non-whites. The source said officials believe the suspects were planning to attempt an assassination against Obama.
The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.
But officials could not describe how advanced or credible the plot was, nor could they say if they had contacted the Obama campaign.
Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the ATF, said the suspects also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as its final target.
“They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh said. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”
According to the affidavit, the suspects planned “to drive their vehicle as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows.”
The court document states that the suspects planned to dress in all-white tuxedos and top hats during the assassination attempt, and that they stated they were willing to die during this attempt.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the campaign would have no comment on the alleged plot. The John McCain campaign also had no comment.
The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of West Helena, Ark., are being held without bond. 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.
Attorney Joe Byrd, who has been hired to represent Cowart, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.
Cowart and Schlesselman are charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president.
According to the affidavit, the two suspects met over the Internet a month ago through a mutual friend. Both claimed to have “very strong beliefs and views regarding ‘white power’ and ‘skinhead’ views.”
FOX News’ Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.