A federal jury Thursday convicted a former right-wing Congressional candidate from Tennessee of someone to burn down a mosque in Islamberg, a hamlet in Hancock, New York, officials announced.
Robert Doggart, 65, ran for Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional district seat in 2014 as a conservative independent.
He preached ‘the protection of the American people, land, and our form of government by the professional military establishment’ and received about six percent of the vote, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The plans also included burning down a school and a cafeteria in the community.
Doggart, of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, also was found guilty of soliciting another person to commit arson and two counts of threatening to destroy a building by fire or an explosive.
The defendant is facing up to 10 years in prison for each felony count. Sentencing is scheduled for May 31.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Nancy Stallard Harr. “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. The jury carefully and attentively listened to the proof, deliberated cautiously for two days, and reached a verdict that reaffirms our American principles.”
The evidence indicated that between February and April of 2015, the defendant planned an armed attack on Islamberg, which is a community that is home to a large Muslim population.
He also solicited others to join in his planned attack on Facebook posts, telephone conversations, and in-person meetings.
Doggart specifically targeted the mosque because it was a religious building, and he discussed burning it down or blowing it up with a Molotov cocktail or other explosive device.
“This conviction is the result of the hard work by the men and women of the FBI and our law enforcement partners,” said Special Agent in Charge Renae McDermott of the Knoxville Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
At trial, the jury heard recorded phone conversations between Doggart and others, including one call in which Doggart said, “I don’t want to have to kill children, but there’s always collateral damage.”
In another call, Doggart described his weapons as intended for killing people and not for hunting game.