(AFP) – Nov 5, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Two white supremacists have been charged with allegedly plotting to assassinate Barack Obama and violating federal gun laws, court documents said Wednesday.
Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were charged by a federal grand jury in the southern state of Tennessee on seven counts, officials said.
The pair was arrested last month for plotting a killing spree of African-Americans, including now president-elect Obama, officials said.
"The indictment against defendants Cowart and Schlesselman alleges several violations of federal firearms laws and threats against a presidential candidate," said Lawrence Laurenzi, acting US attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.
The charges carry penalties of five to 10 years in prison.
The pair conspired to rob a store "in order to obtain weapons to support a plan for further robberies and a killing spree," the indictment sheet said.
They also, on separate occasions, "made threats to kills Barack Obama," it said.
If found guilty on that count, they could face up to five years in prison.
Brian Weaks, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told a Memphis court last month after the arrests the pair had met over the Internet via a mutual friend and soon began talking about murder.
The men began "discussing going on a 'killing spree' that included killing 88 people and beheading 14 African Americans," he said.
"They further stated that their final act of violence would be to attempt to kill/assassinate presidential candidate Barack Obama," he added, as the two men appeared before the federal court.
"Each individual claims to have very strong beliefs and views regarding 'white power' and 'skinhead' views," he said.
Weaks added that the pair detailed how they planned to dress in white tuxedos and top hats as they drove a car toward Obama, shooting at him from the windows.
"Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die in this attempt," he said.
News of the men's arrests in the last week of October heightened fears about Obama's safety in the final days of his campaign to become the first US black president.
Obama, who defeated Arizona Senator John McCain on Tuesday, received Secret Service protection much earlier in his campaign than any other candidate.
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