It is believed that Americans started to take the spread of coronavirus seriously at the end of February but legal documents have uncovered domestic terrorists planned to use COVID-19 as a bioweapon against minorities weeks before public concern increased about the virus.
In a Federal Protective Service intelligence brief released by the U.S. Department of Home Security on the week of February 17, white supremacists discussed the possibility of weaponizing coronavirus through “saliva, a spray bottle or laced items.” Officials discovered their plans through Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app used widely by neo-Nazis. If one of the users had coronavirus, they would intend to spread it to non-white people.
“Violent extremists continue to make bioterrorism a popular topic among themselves,” reads the intelligence brief below. “White Racially Motivated Violent Extremists have recently commented on the coronavirus stating that it is an ‘OBLIGATION’ to spread it should any of them contract the virus.”
Some plans included leaving saliva on “doorknobs of local FBI offices and suggested targeting … law enforcement and minority communities, with some mention of public places in general.”
Speaking with Yahoo News, Nick Martin of The Informant shared how neo-Nazism groups like Atomwaffen look to James Mason’s writings as inspiration. Atomwaffen features younger followers and was in the press earlier this month after five senior members were arrested with federal crimes.
The Guardian reports one of the members was charged for “swatting.” The practice includes making false 911 calls in hopes police would raid the targeted address.
“There’s a whole branch of neo-Nazism that follows James Mason’s writings and uses his work as kind of their bible,” he said. “Atomwaffen is part of that, but there are multiple groups that would fall under the same category.”
The briefing hasn’t shared if the posts were taken down or if those behind the posts on Telegram were arrested. Either way, the report only enforce unwanted panic in the middle of an already uneasy situation.
“There is a big concern right now — including from people who work in counterterrorism — that it’s an opportune time for these accelerationist groups to strike,” Martin said.