In the early weeks of coronavirus making minimal headlines across the country, white supremacists, using encrypted communications apps, discussed with one another the possibility of using the disease as a means to cause harm to non-white communities and federal officers of the law.
An intelligence brief document authored by the Federal Protective Service in mid-February detailed the means by which white supremacists and neo-Nazis had planned to spread the disease, including using their own saliva on door handles, using spray bottles to directly spread the disease to others, and using additional means to infect people, Yahoo News reported.
Those on the chat channel recognized that they themselves would have to get infected for the plan to go forward, with others saying it was their duty to use their own illness as a means to weaponize it against others.
Exclusive: Federal law enforcement tracked white supremacists and Neo-Nazis discussing ways to use coronavirus as a weapon for bioterrorism.
— Sharon Weinberger (@weinbergersa) March 21, 2020
“Violent extremists continue to make bioterrorism a popular topic among themselves,” the federal document read. “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.”
Beyond targeting law enforcement and minority populations, the chat group members also discussed spreading COVID-19 to the general public, the report said.
In recent months, the federal government has started to take more seriously the threat of white supremacists across the country. Last fall, the Department of Homeland Security, of which the Federal Protective Service is a part of, acknowledged that white supremacy in the United States was a true and grave threat to the citizenry.
“The continuation of racially-based violent extremism, particularly violent white supremacy, is an abhorrent affront to the nation,” Kevin McAleenan, then-acting head of DHS, said in testimony last year.