A third plot to assassinate Sen. Barack Obama has been uncovered, according to law enforcement officials in Jackson, Tennessee. Two self-described white supremacists are under arrest and charged by federal prosecutors with plotting a “killing spree” against Black Americans that would culminate in the assassination of Obama.
The men, Daniel Cowart, 20 of Bells, Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Arkansas, have been charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shot gun, conspiracy to rob a federally licensed gun dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Jackson, the men planned to kill more than 100 African Americans, beheading 14 of them, an affidavit stated. No evidence was confiscated indicating the men knew of Obama’s schedule.
“We take this very, very seriously but we see no evidence these guys have the ability or the wherewithal to pull off what they say they wanted to do,” one law enforcement source said. Of course, the same could have been said of the assassins who killed President Kennedy in 1963 and his brother, Robert, in 1968.
An affidavit from the federal agent who interrogated them revealed that Cowart and Schlesselman planned “to charge at Obama with a car, firing from the windows as they went. They would be dressed in white tuxedos and top hats during the attempt.”
They were arrested outside Jackson, about 75 miles east of Memphis, Tennessee, after an aborted robbery attempt last week, according to court records.
Apparently the men failed to follow through on parts of their mission, investigators reported. After indicating they were willing to do die to complete their overall mission, the men backed out of their October 21 attempt to rob the gun dealer after spotting two cars and a dog at the home, according to the affidavit. The men also shot out the window of a church on their way back to Cowart’s grandfather’s home, where they were arrested the next day.
They made their initial appearances before a federal judge Monday and are scheduled for a bond hearing Thursday in Memphis.
The first incident about an aborted assassination plot occurred in Denver during the Democratic National Convention when four people arrested with drugs and weapons in a suburban Denver motel posed a real threat on Obama’s life.
One of them was Tharin Gartrell, 28, who was wanted on numerous warrants. He was apprehended and the police found two high-powered rifles, boxes of ammunition, a rifle scope, a bullet-proof vest, walkie-talkies and methamphetamine in a rented truck he was driving. He then led police to a hotel, where a second man, Shawn Robert Adolph, 33, tried to jump out of a sixth-storey window. After landing on an awning and trying to escape with a broken ankle, Adolph, who had a handcuff ring and was wearing a swastika, according to reports, was eventually arrested.
An associate of Gartrell and Adolph, Nathan Johnson, 32, and his girlfriend, Natasha Gromek, were also arrested. Johnson is understood to have told authorities that the two men “planned to kill Barack Obama at his acceptance speech,” according to a report in the New York Times. The men may have been associated with an outlaw biker group called the Sons of Silence.
In the second, a Florida man was charged with threatening bodily harm against the candidate in August. He has pleaded not guilty.
Obama began receiving secret service protection in the spring of 2007, much earlier than all the other presidential candidates.
When asked about the incident, campaign spokeswoman Linda Douglass said, “We never comment on security matters.”
Meanwhile, Obama, perhaps informed of the plot, was in Canton, Ohio where he was delivering his “closing argument,” in what has been an interminably long presidential campaign and one of the most expensive in history. The two skinheads, the senator said in an interview, did not reflect America, that, he said, was reflected in the diversity of the crowd attending the rally.
And there were rumblings abroad as Syria accused the U.S. of violating international law and Syrian sovereignty in its pursuit of an Al Qaeda leader. An U.S. official claimed that the military operation was carried out by helicopter gun ships and that the leader was killed. Syrian officials said that eight civilians were also killed in the raid.