Robert Doggart, a right-wing extremist who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Tennessee, admitted in federal court that he made plans to massacre a New York Muslim community.
An FBI informant captured recordings of Doggart expressing plans to burn down a mosque, school, and cafeteria and mow down civilians in Islamberg, a tiny rural hamlet in Hancock, New York, in which a small commune consisting primarily of African-American Muslims has lived for decades. Doggart said he was going to use M4 rifles, explosives, machetes, and snipers to kill the residents.
Reporter Tom Cleary obtained numerous court documents from the case. According to the criminal complaint (embedded below), Doggart told the FBI informant that “those guys (ought or have) to be killed. Their buildings need to be burnt down. If we can get in there and do that not losing a man, even the better.” Doggart also wrote on Facebook that he would need less than 20 “expert gunners,” noting that Islamberg “is vulnerable from many approaches and must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people.”
“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives. We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God,” he wrote in another Facebook post. “We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”
Doggart was not arrested on any attempted murder, terrorism, or hate crime charges. Rather, he was arrested on charges of
- intentionally defacing, damaging, or destroying any religious real property, because of the religious character of that property, or attempting to do so; and
- transmitting in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the person of another.
According to the plea agreement, Doggart plead guilty to just one charge, “transmitting in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing any threat to injure the person of another.” He faces five years in prison at most and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Critics say that, if the situation had been reversed, and if the FBI had recorded evidence of a Muslim conveying plans to massacre a Christian community and burn its buildings down, the charges would have been significantly harsher.
In a press release titled “American Taliban (Private Militia) Besiege Islamberg,” the Public Relations Director for The Muslims of America (TMOA), the organization that owns Islamberg, Muhammad Matthew Gardner, said
Doggart is an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community. This man plotted to mercilessly kill us, kill our children, and blow up our mosque and our school. We have sound reason to believe he has already visited our other locations around the U.S. What other murderous plans do he and his private militia (also known as American Taliban) have and where are his accomplices? All would agree, if a Muslim did this, the perpetrator would be immediately identified as a terrorist then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The examples are numerous. Therefore, we call on all branches of justice to see to it that this man is prosecuted for planning a heinous hate crime and terrorist act.
The organization furthermore criticized the US government for expending so many resources monitoring American Muslims, in fear of very rare acts of Islamic extremism, while simultaneously giving little attention to rapidly growing Christian extremist and white supremacist movements. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the leading organization in documenting hate groups in the US, has reported an “explosive growth” of far-right terrorism. There are more right-wing extremist groups in the US than there have ever been.
TMOA indicates that it had been notified of Doggart’s threats and had “worked with state and federal officials to provide residents with round the clock security.”
Gardner added that, because of rampant Islamophobic sentiment in the US, “Our children do not feel safe.”
TMOA describes itself as “the only indigenous American Muslim organization founded and based in the United States of America.” The group formed Islamberg in the late 1980s.
Islamberg has been at the center of a right-wing conspiracy for years. Anti-Muslim conservatives have claimed that the tiny community is a “training camp” for Islamic extremists. The right-wing media has fueled these myths.
An investigation by the right-wing WorldNetDaily found
Attempted attacks on Islamberg have been exposed in the past. In June 2013, members of the KKK in Albany, New York were arrested for possessing “a radiation emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation strong enough to bring about radiation sickness or death against Crawford’s enemies,” according to the FBI. They hoped to use the weapon to kill Muslims. The white supremacists contacted a New York Jewish organization and “asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel’s enemies while they slept.” The Jewish organization contacted the FBI in distress.
TMOA residents have also recalled being targeted and harassed in South Carolina and Virginia.
FBI monitoring revealed that Doggart traveled around the US, meeting with anti-Muslim and anti-government groups in South Carolina and Texas. Members of a TMOA community in South Carolina told The Herald that they fear other Muslim communities may also come under attack.
Doggart was arrested by a federal marshall on April 10. He had planned to travel to New York the next day, in order to conduct what he called a “reconnaissance” mission. According to authorities who monitored his communications, he said “I’ll probably bring my M4 with me just in case.”
The attempted attacker is an ordained minister in the Christian National Church (Congregational). Doggart worked for over 40 years in the electric generation business and received two presidential awards for lifetime public service.
Doggart’s 2014 congressional campaign website was taken down, yet not before it was archived.
In his campaign, Doggart promised he would strive to reverse the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that grants American women the right to have an abortion. He also hoped to limit immigration and demanded an investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack. Doggart ran as an independent and insisted, in an official statement, “There will be no ‘political correctness’ coming from me.”