The recent arrest of Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Hasson, a former Marine who investigators say was a longtime white nationalist, has lawmakers worried that military leaders may not be adequately tracking white supremacy issues within the ranks.
Hasson was arrested on Feb. 15 on drug and firearms charges, but investigators allege he was planning an attack against political and media targets.
Hasson’s arrest underscores a potential threat emanating from the armed forces — the infiltration of the military by violent hate groups or white supremacist organizations seeking to recruit service members with firearms and explosives training.
Lawmakers want to know what military officials are doing to combat the problem in the wake of new allegations of racism in the ranks.
The FBI sounded the alarm over this issue in an investigation concluded in 2008, which warned that “the military training veterans bring to the movement and their potential to pass this training on to others can increase the ability of lone offenders to carry out violence from the movement’s fringes.”
Several Marines over the past few years have been booted from the Corps for alleged ties to white supremacist groups. Now, it appears another Marine may have been exposed for publicly supporting neo-Nazi views.
Social media was abuzz over the weekend as several internet sleuths outed a Twitter account posting racist, anti-Semitic and Nazi propaganda.
The account is allegedly tied to an infantry Marine stationed in Hawaii.
The Twitter handle @Jacobite_Edward, allegedly run by Lance Cpl. Mason Mead, a Marine with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, based out of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, included scores of Nazi propaganda and even depicted military explosives placed in the shape of a swastika.
One Tweeted photo shows a Marine, apparently just back from a field training exercise, with dark camouflage paint on his face captioned “Hello, fellow black men.” It is unknown if the Marine in the photo is Mead.
Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a Marine spokesman, told Marine Corps Times that the Marine’s chain of command had been contacted and was addressing the posts.
“The Marine Corps is aware of the derogatory online comments attributed to a Marine with 1st Battalion, 3d Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division,” III Marine Expeditionary Force told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement. “NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] is thoroughly investigating this situation and the command will address any misconduct at the appropriate judicial or administrative level.”
Naval Criminal Investigative Service told Marine Corps Times that it would not comment on an ongoing investigation.
“Misconduct and hateful messaging on social media is incongruent with our core values and violates our policy,” Butterfield said.
The Twitter account associated with @Jacobite_Edward has since been taken down.
But, the account included numerous tweets referencing the crusades and Nazi images and propaganda.
One photo of German troops in World War II was captioned “Wehrmacht soldiers at Holy Mass on the eve of the great crusade against bolshevism.”
Tweets and photos on social media referenced Mead’s unit and some photos showed parts of his name tapes on military gear and his camouflage utilities.
Mead has not responded to messages from Marine Corps Times.
The Corps has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to Marines actively participating in hate groups — a policy recently updated and codified in its Prohibited Activities and Conduct Prevention and Response Policy, also known as the PAC order.
In July 2018, Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis was booted from the Corps following an explosive story from ProPublica detailing his alleged connections to a neo-Nazi organization known as Atomwaffen Division.
Pistolis was sentenced to 28 days confinement, reduction in rank to E-1 and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month after a court martial for making false statements and disobeying a regulation. He was subsequently processed for administrative separating following the court martial.
Pistolis’ case prompted then-Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., to send a letter to then-Defense Secretary James requesting information white supremacist activities within the military.
“The Marine Corps takes every instance of misconduct seriously, whether on duty, off duty, or online. Any form of racism or discrimination undermines the core values of the Marine Corps and is not tolerated.” III MEF said.