Jurors unanimously convicted the former Tennessee Valley Authority engineer of recruiting people to burn down a mosque, school and cafeteria in the upstate New York community of Islamberg, which is home to a mostly Muslim population, prosecutors said.
Robert Doggart, 65, was convicted in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga of solicitation to commit arson and violate civil rights, as well as of making a threat in interstate commerce, the Department of Justice said in a written statement, according to The Huffington Post.
Doggart was arrested by FBI agents in April 2015 after telling a government informant in wire-tapped phone calls that he planned to recruit a militia and travel to Islamberg, about 145 miles northwest of New York City, prosecutors say. The group planned to burn down the community’s mosque and shoot anyone who tried to stop them, according to the criminal complaint.
“The defendant sought out others to join him in a violent attack on a community of men, women, and children because of their religion,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler said in the statement.
“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,” Nancy Harr, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, said, according to The Times Free Press.
“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,” Harr added. “The jury carefully and attentively listened to the proof, deliberated cautiously for two days, and reached a verdict that reaffirms our American principles.”
Defense attorneys argued that Doggart had exaggerated his intentions to attack Islamberg after being encouraged by the informant and that he never had a solid plan in place. They also said Doggart believed Islamberg residents were training for guerrilla warfare against the West, reported The Post.
Doggart, who had been confined to his home since his apprehension, was taken into custody following Thursday’s verdict. As a result of the conviction, Doggart faces up to 10 years maximum on each of the four charges for which he will be sentenced on May 31.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)