Chattanooga man indicted for mosque-burning plot

Robert Doggart

A federal grand jury in Knoxville has indicted a Chattanooga man for soliciting another person to violate federal civil rights laws by burning down a mosque in Islamberg, New York.

The Department of Justice said Tuesday that 63-year-old Robert Doggart has been indicted by a grand jury in Knoxville on a charge of violating civil rights laws. The indictment says Doggart tried to "solicit, command, induce and endeavor" to persuade someone to burn down a mosque in "Islamberg," a self-named community outside Hancock, New York, consisting primarily of Muslims.

Doggart agreed to plead guilty in April to a charge of plotting an attack that involved killing residents and burning at least three buildings in Islamberg. But the plea agreement was thrown out by a federal judge on June 29.

Doggart previously examined Muslim communities in Tennessee to determine whether they harbored terrorist training camps, but determined that they were safe.

According to a news release released by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doggart wanted to burn the New York mosque, a school and a cafeteria, and he worked to get others to help him by using Facebook and the telephone.

A judge ordered Doggart released in early May with certain conditions, including home detention, psychiatric treatment and drug testing, refrain from possessing a firearm and post a $30,000 bond. Court records show Doggart entered the bond May 6.

In a letter June 10, The Muslims of America religious organization criticized the proposed plea agreement and the judge's release order.

"We respectfully do not believe that the plea arrangement is fair, reasonable or in the interest of justice as it relates to us as victims or to society as a whole," the letter said.

Doggart, of Signal Mountain, ran as an independent in last year's District 4 congressional race and finished with just 6 percent of the vote.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison if convicted.

The FBI is continuing to investigate the case, which will be prosecuted by Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division, with Perry Piper and Chris Poole working on behalf of Bill Killian in the Eastern District of Tennessee.