Former congressional candidate gets 20yrs for plotting attack on Muslim community

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Robert Doggart, a former independent Tennessee congressional candidate, has been sentenced to jail for 20 years for his plot to burn down a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in the state of New York.

On Wednesday, Doggart was sentenced by US District Judge Curtis Collier in Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to Times Free Press.

He was recently convicted in Chattanooga in February for recruiting people to commit acts such as arson and to violate civil rights, according to Reuters.

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Doggart also tried to recruit new members for a militia by using right-wing social media websites from January through April 2015. Among them was a confidential informant who recorded their conversations. Doggart was interested in starting a militia to resist the US government, which he thought would impose martial law on April 15, 2015. “It’s not just a war against Islam or Islamberg,” he said, “It’s a war with the federal government,” explained Saeed Mody, a prosecutor from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, according to Times Free Press.

He was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in April 2015, after being heard on wiretapped telephone calls that he was interested in starting a militia in order to travel to a small rural Muslim community called Islamberg in Hancock, New York, according to Reuters.

When Doggart arrived in the town, his plans were to “carry out an armed attack.” The attack, which was never attempted, included a call to burn down a mosque or “blow it up with a Molotov cocktail, or other explosive device.” It was also revealed that he said, “I don’t want to have to kill innocent children, but there’s always collateral damage,”according to a Department of Justice press release.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed with Doggart’s sentence, saying, “People of all faiths have a fundamental right to worship freely, and this administration will not tolerate attempts to violate that right,” according to a statement.

Leslie Cory, Doggart’s attorney, said an appeal is likely to happen, arguing that her client would not have carried out an attack and that his intention was to shock people, Reuters reported. Cory added that Doggart has a personality disorder and mental illness.

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The town of Islamberg was founded in the 1970’s by a group of African-American Muslims.

The group moved out of various US cities in the 1970s and now inhabit the gated community, which includes dirt roads and several dozen small homes located near the town of Hancock in the Catskill mountains in upstate New York, according to Reuters.

The community is home to roughly 200 members, where the children are homeschooled and the residents worship at a mosque, which was built on the 70-acre plot of land. The community follows a Pakistani Sufi cleric, according to Reuters.

In 2014, Doggart ran for a US congressional seat in Tennessee and finished with 6 percent of the vote, according to WBNG.

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