Election 2008

Jae C. Hong/AP

ATF Breaks Up Alleged Obama Assassination Plot

October 27, 2008 06:31 PM
by Anne Szustek
Federal authorities in Tennessee thwarted the alleged plot of two neo-Nazi skinheads to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and 102 black students.
Jim Cavanaugh, a special agent in charge of the Nashville office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives, said that the two suspects, Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schesselmann, 18, planned to shoot 88 blacks and decapitate another 14, with their primary target being a predominantly black high school in Tennessee in what was to be the beginning of a killing spree that would have Ill. Sen. Barack Obama as its final target.

Federal authorities described the suspects as neo-Nazi skinheads and say that the men did not mention the school by name. The numbers 88 and 14 carry significance among white supremacists.

”They said that would be their last, final act—that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh was quoted as saying by the Chicago Tribune. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”

Cowart and Schesselmann were arrested in Tennessee following a tip-off from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department to the Crockett County Sheriff’s Department. Agents confiscated a sawed-off rifle, three handguns and a rifle from the two suspects. Agents allege that Cowart and Schesselmann were planning to rob a gun store to obtain additional firearms.

According to court documents, “Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt. … Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt.”

A spokesperson for the Obama campaign traveling with the candidate in Pennsylvania had no comment.

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