A federal grand jury indicted Robert Doggart, 63, of Signal Mountain, Tenn. last week for allegedly soliciting others to burn down a mosque in Islamberg, a predominantly African American Muslim hamlet in Hancock, N.Y., near the Pennsylvania border.
A former Independent congressional candidate in Tennessee and an alleged member of several “private militia groups,” according to court documents,Doggart was arrested in April and pleaded guilty as part of a deal to a charge of interstate communication of threats, a non-terrorism offense that carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Doggart’s indictment comes almost a week after controversy erupted on June 30 when the presiding judge in the case, Curtis Collier, allowed Doggart’s release from jail on a $30,000 bond, but rejected the earlier plea agreement, saying that the prosecution failed to prove that Doggart’s plot was a “true threat.”
Doggart had been ordered released to family members by magistrate judge Susan K. Lee after she reversed her earlier ruling finding Doggart a “danger to the community.”
Federal agents began investigating Doggart in February after he posted to Facebook that a community outside Hancock was planning a terrorist attack and “must be utterly destroyed.”
“Those guys (have) to be killed,” Doggart allegedly said during a cell phone conversation to an FBI informant. “Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing a man, even the better.” According to prosecutors, Doggart showed a map of Islamberg to an individual in Nashville and identified the buildings he wanted destroyed, which included a school and a mosque.
In the federal indictment, Doggart is charged with one count of soliciting others to violate federal civil rights laws by intentionally damaging or destroying religious property (or attempting to do so) because of the religious character of the property. If convicted, he faces up to ten years in prison.
According to his 2014 campaign website (available in the web archive), Doggart served in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, and he holds a Ph.D. from LaSalle University. He also claims to be an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church, which appears to be an online ordination mill. Doggart also claimed on his site that he received two Presidential Awards for Pro-bono Lifetime Public Service. Hatewatch could not verify details about those awards, though we did find presidential Pro Bono Service Awards in various states (example here) that appear to be limited to attorneys.
Islamberg’s residents left New York City for a better life and have found common ground with the predominantly white Christian residents of Hancock. In spite of that, Islamberg has been the target of right-wing angst,rumors and accusations of “terrorist training camps” for years.
“It’s kind of perplexing to us,” Delaware County deputy sheriff Craig Dumont told right-wing radio host and WND staffer Aaron Klein on New York’s AM 970. “All this recent media attention in regard to potential terrorist training camps and things that are going on there … We don’t see it. We just don’t find any of that to be valid at this time.”