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Two arrested over plot to 'kill Obama'

Text by Nicholas RUSHWORTH , AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-28

Two men arrested in Tennessee had plans to shoot Democratic candidate Barack Obama, a US law enforcement official said, and many other "non-caucasians". Police reportedly found the men with firearms, including a sawed-off shotgun, in their car.

US authorities have arrested two white supremacists for threatening to kill Democrat Barack Obama during a "killing spree" of more than 100 African-Americans, officials said Monday.
   
The two men planned to kill some 88 people and decapitate 14 African-Americans, before in a final act assassinating Obama, bidding to be the country's first black president, the documents revealed.
   
Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, were arrested Wednesday in Tennessee for possession of firearms, threats against a candidate running for president and conspiring to rob a gun store, the Department of Justice said.
   
The men discussed a "killing spree to include targeting a predominantly African-American school," Brian Weaks, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told a Memphis court Monday.
   
"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.
   
The Obama campaign declined to comment on the case.
   
Cowart, from Bells, Tennessee, and Schlesselman, from Arkansas, met via the Internet a month ago and have "very strong beliefs and views regarding 'White Power' and 'Skinhead' views," Weaks told the court.
   
Cowart had bought one rifle and stockpiled two handguns, both stolen from his grandfather. They planned to steal another high-powered rifle from a gun store in Jackson, Tennessee, as well as a series of robberies to finance their bloody actions.
   
"Schlesselman stated that they planned to drive their vehicles as fast as they could toward Obama shooting at him from the windows," Weaks said.
   
"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."
   
Acting US Attorney for western district of Tennessee, Lawrence Laurenzi, said: "The allegations set forth in this criminal complaint are serious and will be treated as such.
   
"The public can rest assured that federal, state, and local law enforcement are diligently working together to investigate and prosecute the alleged activity," he added in a statement.
   
The two men will be brought back to the Memphis federal court on Thursday.
   
Obama, who has made history by becoming the first black presidential nominee of a major political party, is already under secret service protection having received it much earlier in the campaign than any other presidential candidate.
   
In late August, the alarm was also raised when it was revealed three men were arrested with a weapons cache in Denver, Colorado where the party convention was being held. US attorneys later said there had been no credible threat against Obama.
   
The Memphis court was told that just before their arrest Cowart and Schlesselman had bought food, nylon rope and ski masks.
   
They also shot out the window of a local church in Brownsville, Tennessee, before driving back to Cowart's grandfather's home where they chalked racist words and symbols, including a Swastika and the numbers 14 and 88 onto the hood of Cowart's car.
   
"It is critical that the alleged plot was interrupted," said James Cavanaugh, special agent in charge at the ATF. "All forces of law enforcement have come together to stop this threat."
   

Date created : 2008-10-27

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