When members of a white supremacist street fighting gang were accused of participating in a deadly riot, travel companions on the Gab website had a suggestion: doxx the US officials involved in the case, or maybe just kill them.
A new unsealed search warrant request from October 2018 reveals that the federal government was interested in threats to federal law enforcement on the extremist social network. The threats concerned a Department of Justice official, a US lawyer, a prosecutor and others involved in a federal case against members of the white supremacist movement Rise Above. Months earlier, one of the Gab users involved had also aided doxx a blogger, attracting the attention of another user who would later be accused of slaughtering worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
The warrant sought information – including private messages and IP information – on Chad Bagwell, a man from Alabama who posted on Gab and attended at least one white supremacist rally under his own name. The investigation appears to have started when Bagwell suggested another Gab user, doxx (i.e. revealing private information about) federal officials, specifically to the Department of Justice.
The cancellation of the seal on the search warrant this week came at the right time: earlier this month at least 15 people were arrested in connection with three alleged right-wing plots to kidnap local or state officials. Two of the conspiracies, which targeted Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, were organized online.
“You wouldn’t think of using your considerable doxxing skills on the federal government, would you?” Bagwell wrote to Hunter Wallace, a user of Gab, an account long linked to Brad Griffin, a prominent member of the neo-Confederate League of the South, in October 2018. “We start with Rosenstein, go down to agents of arrest themselves? Get yourself a big list of all the System Pigs that have ever hurt our people in any way. This might be a useful thing to have in case of, uh, future eventualities.
“Rosenstein” was presumably a reference to then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the suggestion came amid a discussion among other members of the far-right community about an American lawyer and other justice officials involved in the case against Rise Above, a supremacist group. white that glorifies violence at street level. The group appeared on federal radar after being seen beating up opponents at the 2017 murderous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Where a neo-Nazi murdered an anti-racist protester with his car.
Four members were accused of conspiring to riot in Charlottesville, which enraged the white supremacist movement. (Four other members of the group were reportedly convicted of conspiring to riot elsewhere in the country, but three of their convictions were later overturned.)
“The Feds are arresting four of our guys?” Bagwell wrote in an article by Gab included in the search warrant application. “And what are we going to do about it?” The real question to ask is, how many federal agents do we have to kill before the others stop doing it?
While the warrant does not name Griffin or charge him with posting private information of court officials, he had recently used Gab to facilitate the doxxing of an anti-racist blogger who was critical of white supremacists. Griffin posted in July 2018 that he had personal information (including home address) of the blogger. The comments caught the attention of Robert Bowers, the man who would later be charged with murdering 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in late October 2018. Bowers reached out to Griffin, offering him more information about the blogger’s home address, The Daily Beast reported. .
Bagwell could not be reached for comment on this story and has not been charged with a felony. Griffin did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor has he been charged with a warrant related felony.
A spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office for the The Western District of Virginia declined to comment, as have people who were the subjects of the potential doxxing but who have since left the Department of Justice. The Eastern District of Virginia, which filed the case, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Michael Hayden, senior investigative reporter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said doxxing was sort of a community activity on Gab, particularly in 2017 and 2018.
“Especially at that point on Gab, you were getting the doxx and then there would be like a celebratory sharing of threats,” Hayden told The Daily Beast. “They were talking publicly about what they wanted to do to someone. It was also very efficient, ”he said, as some users seemed to be trying to elicit reactions from the anti-fascists who were monitoring the site.
Bagwell and Griffin may have had offline connections. Bagwell attended at least one rally (a “White Lives Matter” event in October 2017) alongside the Southern League, of which Griffin is a member. Bagwell is also a frequent commentator on Griffin’s blog, most notably the author of a recent comment claiming to have joined the group.
A representative for Gab declined to comment on the search warrant.
“Like most tech companies with millions of users, Gab communicates regularly with US law enforcement on public safety issues,” the representative told The Daily Beast. “We consider all communications with US law enforcement confidential and do not publicly comment on specific cases.”
Court documents reveal Gab complied with the warrant, sending the relevant files to investigators. It was not clear if Gab had notified the users involved, especially Bagwell.
Doxxing and murder plots are technically against Gab’s rules. However, the site has sometimes turned a blind eye to the bad behavior of users, allowing them to stay on the site after posting private information. Bagwell’s account, for example, is still live on Gab and uses his legal name, although Gab has received a warrant for his alleged activity.
Gab took a reputation blow after the Tree of Life massacre, which Bowers appeared to advertise on the website. But although some of his most important users have moved elsewhere (or in several high-profile cases, gone to jail), Gab hasn’t done much to change the culture of the site, which had previously seen people like Bagwell build follow-ups based on their inflammatory remarks.
Hayden said the lack of moderation, as well as the comfort people like Bagwell felt in using their legal names, had real consequences.
“Gab, from 2017, the time before Charlottesville, until the Tree of Life massacre, was the worst and most dangerous website I have ever seen,” he said. “He had this combination of this say-anything mentality, and it gave people the ability to promote their brand and become public figures.
#White #supremacist #Chad #Bagwell #reportedly #list #authorities #kill #Doxx #unsealed #dossier