FBI Scuttles Skinhead Plot to Assassinate Obama

Published October 31, 2008

Posted Oct. 28, 2008 – Two neo-Nazi skinheads are in jail today after law-enforcement officials broke up their plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or behead 99 Black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said Monday.

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Authorities disrupted the plans of the two would-be assassins to rob a gun store and target a predominately African-American high school in a murder spree that was to begin in Tennessee, federal officials said, in court records unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn.  All together, the two men planned to kill 88 people, including 14 African Americans by beheading, said Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of ATF's Nashville field office.  The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the White supremacist community.

The men also sought to go on a national killing spree after the Tennessee murders, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.

"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."

The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., pictured above, are being held without bond. The two men are jailed on two federal weapons charges and for making threats against a presidential candidate.

When they were arrested Oct. 22, after they allegedly shot out the windows of a Baptist church in Tennessee, agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men. Authorities say the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more guns.

Investigators say the two men had planned to wear white top hats and tuxedos to do a drive-by shooting of Obama. While authorities took the threat very seriously, they said the men showed no evidence of actually carrying out the plot – they didn’t have Obama’s schedule or specific plans to attend any event. 

CBS station KDKA reporter Jon Delano in Pittsburgh caught up with the candidate on the campaign trail Monday night and asked him about the plot. Watch the video here.

Written by BET-Staff

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