Barack Obama assassination attempts began even before he became president, when he was still on the campaign trail. While nobody has managed to actually take a shot at President Obama directly, many people have either plotted to assassinate him, claimed they were plotting to kill him, or threatened to do so.
Any threat to kill Obama, no matter how outlandish or done in jest, is investigated by the Secret Service. Often, incidents that would be brushed off if they happened to private citizens end in jail time because they were directed at the president, who is protected by specific federal laws. These threats are taken seriously, and sometimes result in decades of prison time.
Here are the most prominent attempts to assassinate President Obama, the majority of which were defused before they were actually carried out.
The White House Drive-ByPhoto: US Marshals Service
On November 11, 2011, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez sprayed semi-automatic rifle fire from his car parked on Constitution Avenue near the White House. At least seven rounds struck the White House itself, though no one was injured, and the President wasn’t there at the time of the shooting.Hernandez was arrested five days later in a hotel in Indiana, PA, and both his writings and testimony showed that he believed President Obama was the anti-Christ and would usher in the end of the world. In September 2013, Hernandez pleaded guilty to destruction of property and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence, and the charge of attempting to assassinate the President was dropped. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $100,000 to repair the White House.
The Anarchist Militia PlotPhoto: Georgia State Police
In 2012, four U.S. Army soldiers in Georgia were indicted, with authorities claiming that they had formed a paramilitary anarchist militia called FEAR (Forever Enduring, Always Ready) and planned to overthrow the federal government by killing the president. The four men were Private Isaac Aguigui, Private First Class Michael Burnett, Sergeant Anthony Peden, and Private Christopher Salmon. The group was alleged to have purchased $87,000 worth of guns and bomb-making materials, conspired to take over Fort Stewart, blowup targets across the country, and finish things off by killing President Obama.
Sadly, while most of these plots end harmlessly, this one took multiple lives: those of former soldier Michael Roark and his teenage girlfriend Tiffany York, who were killed by the group because they knew of the militia’s plans. Burnett eventually turned on his comrades and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for testifying against the others. All three pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty, and were sentenced to life in prison. A number of other FEAR members were arrested in connection with the plot, as was Salmon’s wife.
The Denver Man Who Wanted to Kill Kids and the PresidentPhoto: Mitchell Kusick / via Facebook
In October 2012, Mitchell Kusick was arrested by the Secret Service at his parents' suburban Denver, CO home after his therapist told police that he wanted to kill the President with a shotgun during an upcoming campaign stop in Boulder, as well as shoot children at a local school. Kusick was apparently obsessed with snipers in general, and both the Columbine shootings and the Aurora movie theater massacre in particular.After some discussion about whether Kusick truly was a risk to the community, or suffering from severe mental issues, Kusick pleaded guilty and served nine months in federal prison.
The KKK Death Ray PlotPhoto: FBI
In 2013, two men from upstate New York were arrested after building a radiation-spewing "death ray" and plotting to use it in a killing spree against President Obama, Muslims, and other perceived enemies of the United States and Israel. Glenn Scott Crawford and Eric J. Feight were taken into custody by the FBI after a 15-month operation that had deep cover agents posing as co-conspirators. A court affidavit described the “death ray device”as "a mobile, remotely operated, radiation emitting device capable of killing human targets silently and from a distance with lethal doses of radiation." Crawford, who designed it, referred to the truck-mounted x-ray device as “Hiroshima on a light switch.”
Crawford, an electrical engineer who was affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, had allegedly contacted multiple Jewish organizations and asked for their assistance with technology that could be used against Israel's enemies, including local mosques and an Islamic school. At the same time, he also plotted to kill President Obama with the device. The undercover agents rendered the weapon inoperable to eliminate potential danger to the public, and police moved in on the pair. Feight was found guilty of various felonies, and given 97 months in prison, while Crawford is awaiting trial.