Robert Doggart, 65, of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, was sentenced to 235 months in prison for soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws by burning down a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet outside Hancock, New York, announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions and United States Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr of the Eastern District of Tennessee. Doggart also was found guilty of soliciting another person to commit arson.
Evidence presented at trial established that, in February 2015, the FBI learned through a confidential source that the defendant was recruiting people online to carry out an armed attack on Islamberg, a community that is home to a large Muslim population. Doggart arranged to meet with the confidential source in Nashville, where he discussed details of his plan to burn down a mosque, a school, and a cafeteria in Islamberg. Doggart showed the confidential source maps of Islamberg, laid out the number of guns and types of ammunition they would need to destroy the community, and discussed different ways to burn down a mosque and other buildings. Through a court order, the FBI also began intercepting Doggart’s phone calls during which Doggart solicited and recruited people to join him in his attack on Islamberg.
Doggart specifically targeted the mosque because it was a religious building, and he discussed burning it down or blowing it up with a Molotov cocktail or other explosive device. At trial, the jury heard recorded conversations in which Doggart repeatedly discussed killing people, including one in which Doggart said, “I don’t want to have to kill children, but there’s always collateral damage.”
“People of all faiths have the fundamental right to worship freely, and this administration will not tolerate attempts to violate that right,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “The defendant solicited people to commit acts of violence in an effort to terrorize a community simply because of its Islamic faith. The Justice Department will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute attacks against our faith-based communities.”
“The people of the Eastern District of Tennessee will not tolerate the type of threats and actions perpetrated by Doggart. The United States Attorney’s Office will aggressively prosecute those who seek to disrupt the safety of our community and others,” said U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr.
The case was investigated by the FBI’s Knoxville Division. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Saeed A. Mody of the Civil Rights Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry H. Piper of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and assisted by Trial Attorney Clement McGovern of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.