The FBI arrested a Massachusetts man who made social media comments “deriding” Jews, people of color, the LGBT community and liberals this week after he allegedly threatened to burn down the largest mosque in Boston.
Patrick Keogan, 44, of Wilmington, Mass., was arrested after a three-year investigation that included secretly placing a court-authorized GPS tracking device on his vehicle while threats were being posted on Facebook, court documents disclosed.
The FBI agent said in a court filing that it believes the suspect’s Facebook posts exceeded First Amendment protections because they were intended as threats.
During the federal investigation, FBI agents learned Keogan, who has a felony record, was illegally purchasing ammunition and posted Facebook pictures holding rifles and ammunition, both of which he is not allowed to possess under law. He now faces federal charges of “willful threat to injure or intimidate another and destroy a building by means of fire” and being a felon in possession of ammunition.
Court documents said the suspect’s Facebook account “included derogatory/anti-Islamic comments regarding Muslims.” The account – with the name ‘Patrick Keogan – A. Wyatt Mann’ — also contained posts deriding the Jewish faith, ‘brown people,’ homosexuals and liberals.”
“The self-selected vanity names associated at one point or another with the account includes ‘Patrick KillsMuslims Keogan,’ ‘Patrick BanIslam Keogan,’ ‘PatrickNatSoc Keogan,’ ‘Patrick Shitlord Keogan’ and ‘Patrick CyberBully Keogan,’” the documents said.
“The person who owned the PatKeogan account also belonged to a closed Facebook group called the ‘Aryan Army,’” a federal criminal complaint alleges.
The FBI became aware of Keogan in March 2013 when agents investigated a report that someone was making threats against the U.S. Congress, court documents said. At that time, agents learned Keogan had a Facebook page entitled “Muhammed [sic] fuxpigs.”
When FBI agents contacted Keogan in 2013, he “stated that he is often vocal about his political beliefs, especially when drinking.” But his alleged threat-making didn’t stop even after being contacted by the FBI three years ago
Just months later, following the firebombing of the Islamic Center in Joplin, Mo., in July 2013, Keogan posted a Facebook comment saying the crime was carried out by an “unknown hero.”
Last year, he posted photographs showing himself holding an assault rifle with a large-capacity magazine and another depicting six black rifles and a shotgun which he entitled ‘My black friends,’” court documents said.
Another picture shows four high-capacity firearm magazines taped together to form a Nazi swastika, under the caption “Swastimag is best mag.”
The charges, however, are tied to alleged threats he posted last November on the Facebook page of Roxbury’s Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, charging documents allege. His post included “an image depicting a mosque in flames with lettering superimposed that stated ‘Burn your local mosque,’ along with the statement ‘Hello scumbags.’ He is accused of posting the same image on the Facebook page of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University.
When FBI agents again contacted Keogan in December, he said that he had reposted the burning mosque image after terrorist attacks in Paris.
Keogan said he had been upset and “dicking around online.” Keogan said that he “was sorry and that he needs to smarten up as he is too old to act this way.”
With the FBI still monitoring his activities, Keogan traveled to New Hampshire in early May and illegally purchased ammunition – a sale captured on store surveillance cameras.
The arresting FBI case agent said in his affidavit that although some of the facts “describe beliefs and activity that might otherwise be protected by the First Amendment,” he listed them to establish probable cause to believe that Keogan was behind the Facebook account and his postings were “intended as threats” not constitutionally protected.