A Tennessee man accused of planning to attack a Muslim community in New York has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. Chattanooga’s U.S. District Court convicted Christian minister Robert Doggart, a 65-year-old former engineer at the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The FBI began investigating Doggart in February 2015, when agents became aware of a threatening Facebook post by Doggart in which he wrote that Islamberg needed to be “utterly destroyed.” After an investigation that included wiretaps Doggart was arrested on April 10 by federal marshals and charged with solicitation, intentionally defacing, damaging or destroying religious property and interstate communication of threats, court documents show.
FBI agents discovered Doggart was stockpiling weapons and plotting to travel to upstate New York to kill Muslims using explosives, an M-4 assault rifle and a machete. According to a federal investigation, Doggart saw himself as a religious “warrior” and wanted to kill Muslims to show his commitment to his Christian god.
The investigation showed that he spoke with numerous individuals across the country to plan an attack. Doggart also traveled to South Carolina, where he met with individuals from an unidentified militia group.
Prosecutors said Doggart made threats against Islamberg near Hancock, N.Y., in phone conversations with supporters in South Carolina and Texas. Jurors listened to many phone calls in which Doggart talked about burning down Islamberg’s mosque with explosives and shooting anyone who opposed his team with assault rifles.
Defense attorneys countered that Doggart exaggerated a number of facts, never had a consistent plan in place, was goaded by a confidential informant into carrying out the attack and only wanted to conduct peaceful recon on Islamberg. Defense attorney Jonathan Turner told jurors in his closing arguments that Doggart was convinced Islamberg’s residents wanted to carry out a terror attack on New York City, in part because of Fox News broadcasts.
Since his arrest in April 2015, Doggart has spent most of the time out on bond until his recent conviction. After that verdict, Doggart’s defense attorneys had asked Judge Collier to let him stay on house arrest before his May 31 sentencing hearing, citing medical problems. Collier denied the request saying Doggart appeared obsessed with the community of Islamberg and should stay in custody until sentencing.