Former Tennessee congressional candidate Robert Doggart didn’t think it would take much to attack a Muslim community in upstate New York: a small group of gunmen with assault rifles, some Molotov cocktails or a demolitions expert and, just in case, a machete.
“If it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds,” Doggart said on a call intercepted by the FBI, according to a criminal complaint.
The recently unsealed criminal complaint, dated April 13, alleged that Doggart had threatened to burn down several buildings in a Muslim community near Hancock, New York, nicknamed by its residents as “Islamberg” — and even kill residents if it came down to that. He planned to enlist the help of members of a militia called “OAF” to carry out the plot.
Federal marshals arrested Doggart on April 10. He ultimately signed an agreement under which he would enter a guilty plea to a single charge of interstate communication of a threat and was released from custody on $30,000 bond.
Prior to his arrest, Doggart’s claim to fame was running an unsuccessful campaign against ultra-conservative Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) as an independent in 2014.
From March through April, Doggart allegedly discussed his plans to burn down a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in Islamberg with other individuals in Texas and South Carolina both in person and by phone, according to the complaint. Court documents showed Doggart discussed employing a variety of weapons in the attack, including M-4 military-style rifles, pistols, Molotov cocktails, explosives and the aforementioned machete.
He also allegedly attempted to recruit people to participate in the attack through Facebook, referring to Islamberg as “Target 3.”
“The Operation in mind requires but <20 expert gunners,” one post read, according to the complaint. “Target 3 is vulnerable from many approaches, and must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American People. If you are volunteering, and can show for a face-to-face meeting of these patriots, then we would welcome your skill set.”
The complaint showed that Doggart’s communications were often full of such fiery, soaring rhetoric.
“Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives,” Doggart wrote in another Facebook post. “We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God. We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace.”
The complaint also referenced an intercepted phone call in which Doggart told a woman: “When we meet with this state, the people that we will seek will know who we are. We will be cruel to them. And we will burn down their buildings.”
Doggart allegedly mentioned to a confidential FBI source that he’d set a deadline of April 15 to carry out the attack in accordance with the plans of a private militia group he’d been working with, according to information in the plea agreement. Doggart said that on that date, the militia, identified only as “OAF,” was “gonna start a civil war.”
The plea agreement also stated that Doggart justified his plot by claiming that Islamberg residents planned to carry out a terrorist attack. The community made headlines following the Paris terror attacks in January. Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at the Clarion Project, said on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” that the FBI considered The Muslims of America, the group headquartered at Islamberg, to be a threat. Mauro also said he had video of Islamberg residents “engaging in guerrilla warfare training.”
Local law enforcement doesn’t consider the group to be a threat, however. Delaware County Sheriff Craig Dumont told WND’s Aaron Klein in a radio interview that he was aware of the video Mauro referenced, but said “nothing that we have developed or had contact with has made us believe there is any credit to those videos.”
The Muslims of America released a statement over the weekend calling Doggart “an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community.”
“This man plotted to mercilessly kill us, kill our children, and blow up our mosque and our school. We have sound reason to believe he has already visited our other locations around the U.S. What other murderous plans do he and his private militia (also known as American Taliban) have and where are his accomplices?” the group’s public relations director, Muhammad Matthew Gardner, said in the statement. “All would agree, if a Muslim did this, the perpetrator would be immediately identified as a terrorist then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The examples are numerous. Therefore, we call on all branches of justice to see to it that this man is prosecuted for planning a heinous hate crime and terrorist act.”
Doggart is currently awaiting sentencing under house arrest. He faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years probation.
His attorneys, Bryan Hoss and Janie Parks Varnell, did not respond to a request for comment from TPM. A phone number listed for Doggart had been disconnected.
Read the complaint and the plea agreement below:
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.