Feds Thwart Alleged Obama Assassination Plot

Authorities question reputed skinheads for alleged plot against Obama, blacks.

October 27, 2008, 4:44 PM

Oct. 27, 2008— -- Authorities in Tennessee have arrested two men described as white supremacists for an alleged plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and more than 100 others.

The alleged plotters were also planning a "killing spree" that included murdering 88 individuals by gunfire and 14 African-Americans by decapitation, with the attempt on Obama's life as the "final act of violence," according to an affidavit filed by a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Authorities arrested Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., in Tennessee after the Crockett County Sheriff's Department received a tip from the Haywood County Sheriff's Department.

According to the affidavit, Cowart told investigators that he and Schlesselman planned to use two rifles in the alleged assassination attempt, and that they "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 two men "further stated they knew they would [die] and were willing to die during this attempt," the document continued.

A criminal complaint filed with the affidavit in the Western District of Tennessee charges the men with possession of an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal from a licensed firearms dealer and threats against a major candidate for the office of president.

The affidavit says Cowart and Schlesselman met online about a month ago and both claim to have "very strong beliefs and views regarding 'White Power' and 'Skinhead' views."

The affidavit refers to the significance of the numbers 88 and 14 in the "White Power" movement. Fourteen represents the 14 words "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children," according to a law enforcement source. Eighty-eight represents "Heil Hitler," H being the eighth letter in the alphabet.

On Saturday, authorities say the men decorated their car with a Swastika and drew the numbers 14 and 88 on the hood using window chalk. They were arrested later that night.

According to law enforcement sources and the affidavit, the suspected plotters admitted to investigators that they were planning to rob a gun shop to steal weapons for their killing spree, and that their final act was to be a plan to kill Obama.

The court documents say Cowart cased a specific gun store in Jackson, Tenn., taking pictures and drawing a diagram of the shop, which he then sent to Schlesselman.

Investigators say the men had several weapons, including a FASI .308 rifle and sawed off shotguns. The affidavit states that Schlesselman said he owns a Mossberg Model 500 AT 12-gauge shotgun and that he "advised that he cut the barrel down to approximately 16 inches in length in order to make it 'easier to maneuver' during the 'killing spree.'"

ATF agents say they recovered a firearm matching that description. Additionally, according to the affidavit, Schlesselman and Cowart admitted to stealing other guns from family members.

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