WASHINGTON–A federal jury Thursday convicted a Signal Mountain, Tennessee man of soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws by burning down a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet outside Hancock, New York, federal authorities say.
Robert Doggart, 65, also was found guilty of soliciting another person to commit arson and two counts of threatening to destroy a building by fire or an explosive.
Evidence presented at trial established that between February and April of 2015, Doggart planned an armed attack on Islamberg, which is a community that is home to a large Muslim population. Doggart’s plans included burning down a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in the community. He also solicited others to join in his planned attack through Facebook posts, telephone conversations and in-person meetings. 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.
“The Defendant sought out others to join him in a violent attack on a community of men, women, and children because of their religion,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler. “We thank the jury for their service, and we will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s laws that protect the ability of people of all faiths to live and worship in peace.”
“Our nation cannot tolerate threats by those who are willing to kill innocent children, women and men who do not share their religious beliefs or philosophy,” said U.S. Attorney Stallard Harr. “I am heartened that citizens from Chattanooga, a community that was victimized by domestic terrorism just 18 months ago, chose to condemn the threat of more terroristic acts. The jury carefully and attentively listened to the proof, deliberated cautiously for two days, and reached a verdict that reaffirms our American principles.”
At trial, the jury heard recorded phone conversations between Doggart and others, including one call in which Doggart said, “I don’t want to have to kill children, but there’s always collateral damage.” In another call, Doggart described his weapons as intended for killing people and not for hunting game.
The defendant faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison for each of the four counts of conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for May 31 before U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier of the Eastern District of Tennessee.