Tennessee man plotted to attack Muslims, burn down mosque in New York's Islamberg

Reuters News
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Posted: May 19, 2015 11:35 AM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An ex-Congressional candidate from Tennessee faces up to five years in prison for plotting to burn down an upstate New York mosque and use an assault rifle against anyone who tried to stop him, according to court documents.

Robert Doggart, who made a failed bid for Congress in 2014 as an independent with highly conservative views, pleaded guilty on April 29 to interstate communication of threats, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee.

No date has been set for sentencing, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Knoxville said on Tuesday. Doggart was released on $30,000 bail.

At one point in March, according to the documents, Doggart told a telephone contact that "if there's a gun fight, well there's a gun fight. And I do want to come home 'cause I love my family and I want to see my kids again. But I also understand that if it's necessary to die then that's a good way."

On wire-tapped phone calls, in meetings with Federal Bureau of Investigation informants and on social media, he schemed to round up a militia to attack Islamberg, a rural hamlet that is home to a small Muslim community in Hancock, New York, about 130 miles (209 km) northwest of New York City.

"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 said during a phone call with an informant, according to court papers.

Doggart used Facebook to solicit others in the attack, saying "20 expert gunners can do a lot (of) damage," the court documents showed.

He also talked about carrying an assault rifle "with 500 rounds of ammunition, light armor piercing. A pistol with three extra magazines and a machete. And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds," according to the criminal complaint.

On April 2, Doggart said he commands a battalion that carries out these type of attacks, called flash points.

"A flash point is so sick and tired of the crap that the government is pulling that we go take a small military installation or we go burn down a Muslim church or something," Doggart explained, according to court documents.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Lambert)