October 30, 2008
Briefs: ADL helped Feds in skinhead Obama plot, FBI report says hate crimes down
The Anti-Defamation League assisted in the investigation into white supremacists arrested in an alleged plot to assassinate Barack Obama.
The ADL, which tracks white supremacist groups, provided the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with information on Daniel Cowart, 21, of Jackson, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark.
A joint ATF and Crocket County, Tenn., Sheriff's Office investigation culminated Oct. 22 in the arrests of the two men, who were charged with "possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threats against a major candidate for the office of president," according to an ADL release.
News reports said the men planned to murder 88 blacks, possibly at a local high school, and also discussed assassinating Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate.
ADL had information on the pair partly because of Cowart's involvement in Supreme White Alliance, a racist skinhead group monitored by the Jewish civil rights body.
"The arrests of these dangerous white supremacists prevented what could have been the most serious act of domestic terrorism in recent years," said Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director. "This case shows how extreme ideologies easily lead to extreme actions."
Hate Crimes Down Slightly in '07
Hate crimes in the United States declined slightly last year, according to the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations' annual report on hate crime data documented 7,624 hate crimes in 2007, compared to 7,722 in 2006. Crimes directed against Hispanics, gay men and lesbians increased, however; with the rise in acts due to sexual orientation at nearly 6 percent.
Religion-based crimes fell to 1,400 in 2007 from 1,462 in 2006. The number of anti-Jewish crimes was about the same -- 969 in '07 and 967 the previous year.
"While we welcome the fact that reported hate crimes declined slightly in 2007, violent bigotry is still disturbingly prevalent in America, with nearly one hate crime occurring every hour of every day of the year," said Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman.
Foxman said the ADL is looking forward to working with the new president and Congress in January on ways to combat the problem, including the passage of legislation that would expand the federal government's ability to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting such crimes.
-- Jewish Telegraphic Agency