(Hancock, NY) On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, the Honorable Judge Curtis L Collier, Senior Judge, pronounced the sentence for terror plot mastermind, Robert Rankin Doggart of Signal Mountain, TN. The 66-year-old American Taliban and failed congressional candidate was arrested on April 10, 2015, for plotting and soliciting others to travel to Islamberg, NY to attack the community of Muslims, burn down their mosque, school and cafeteria, and kill anyone who got in their way, including children. Telling Doggart that “This was a crime against the United States of America”, Judge Collier imposed the maximum sentence of 235 months, with 3 years of supervised release and a special assessment of $200.00.
On February 16, 2017, Doggart was found guilty on all counts, which included- solicitation to commit a federal civil rights violation, solicitation to commit arson, and communicating threats through the use of an instrument of interstate commerce- following a six day trial and two days of deliberation. The Court denied the defense motion to release Doggart on bail pending sentencing and he was remanded into custody of the U.S. Marshals. Doggart’s attorneys filed a Renewed Motion to Grant a Judgment of Acquittal on all counts. Just weeks before Doggart’s June 14th sentencing hearing Judge Collier issued an order acquitting him on Counts Three and Four, making threats in interstate commerce on March 22 and April 9, 2015 in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(e). The Court determined, “there was not enough evidence for the jury to have found beyond a reasonable doubt Defendant made threats on those dates for the purpose of effecting a change or achieving a goal through intimidation.”
During the course of the trial, held in federal court, the government produced into evidence hours of wiretapped conversation, and pages of Facebook messages between Doggart and would- be accomplices, where he solicited help and discussed attacking the community of Islamberg. Unbeknownst to him, Doggart met a confidential source (CSI) who was working with the FBI and shared information he collected in preparation such as aerial maps of Islamberg, the gun laws of NY, and law enforcement resources in the area. In a recorded conversation outside the City Café in downtown Chattanooga, one day before his arrest, Doggart said, “The action team can move on in on a post until the first bomb goes off and everybody wakes up and once they start coming out the buildings that’s when you just hit them.” In the same conversation he then states, “Don’t want to kill children, man. But there’s always collateral damage.” The CSI, Shane Schielein of Peoria, IL and Sally McNulty, a Chattanooga area real estate agent, were present at that meeting. Upon his arrest, the FBI confiscated multiple firearms and over 5000 rounds of ammunition.
One accomplice, William Tint of South Carolina, claimed to know an explosives expert. In September of 2015, Tint pled guilty to making a false statement to the FBI regarding a plan to commit a violent act against a person or property, which is a felony. He was sentenced to probation. At the sentencing, prosecutors discussed whether to charge Tint with solicitation, but concluded that a botched attempt of his and Doggart to meet in 2015 kept Tint from completing an essential step in the element of “solicitation”. According to prosecutors, Doggart traveled to South Carolina to visit with family and then to meet with Tint to discuss explosives. However, as the day progressed he could not reach Tint to confirm a proper meeting location. Prosecutors believe that Tint did not answer the telephone because he was intoxicated.
A light mist fell on the shoulders of members of The Muslims of America, Inc., as they gathered on the steps of the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building in Chattanooga, TN to address the press following the conclusion of Doggart’s sentencing hearing. “This is the close of a somber period for the people of Islamberg. For two years they have been forced to face the threat and reality of the hatred exhibited by Doggart and like- minded people. This punishment given out today is a warning for those who think like he thinks and is a reassurance for people who want to practice their faith and want to do so in the safety and security allotted by the laws of this land, “said Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, Esq. from prepared remarks. Amatul-Wadud and Tahirah H. Clark, Esq. are legal counsel for the community of Islamberg and represented the community as interested victims in the case, while also serving as liaisons with the prosecuting attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Eastern District of TN.
“The community of Islamberg has been very strong, patient and confident throughout this ordeal, knowing justice will be served,” said Mrs. Khadijah Smith, Trustee and Asst. Chief Executive of TMOA. “We would like to thank law enforcement, Trial Attorney Saeed A. Mody and Asst. U.S. Attorney Perry H. Piper for their exemplary work in bringing Justice for Islamberg.”
At the sentencing, Doggart made an allocution statement where he apologized to his family and Islamberg residents and then critiqued the entire U.S. legal system, denigrating the grand jury process and criticizing the amount of money used in his prosecution. Doggart claimed that he did not commit a crime and was only exercising his right to free speech. “The crime is solicitation,” Judge Collier responded, “It is like throwing a piece of fish to a pack of cats…you do not know which cat is going to bite.” After hearing the allocution, Judge Collier said he now understood why defense counsel did not put Doggart on the stand. He noted that if Doggart had testified, the jury would have returned a guilty verdict within 15 to 20 minutes!
Approximately 50 residents attended the sentencing hearing from Islamberg, NY and the southern villages of TMOA. Prior to sentencing, Islamberg residents, neighbors, interfaith allies and supporters from across the U.S. provided dozens of victim impact letters to the Court. Judge Collier quoted from two of the impact letters. During the hearing, Judge Collier granted Mrs. Smith permission to address the court. “The jury has spoken, the people have spoken… we’ve participated in this judicial process.” said Smith, speaking on behalf of TMOA. “We trust that Your Honor will make the best determination.”
Doggart’s attorneys have since filed motions to withdraw as counsel and to appoint substituted counsel for appeal. The motions state that, “Mr. Doggart has expressed his intention to appeal the conviction and sentence in his case and current counsel asks that substitute counsel be appointed to represent Mr. Doggart for this purpose.” In addition to a possible appeal, Doggart is also a defendant in a civil case filed by The Muslims of America, Inc. concerning his plot to destroy Islamberg. In March of 2016, attorneys Amatul-Wadud and Clark initiated the case in the United States District Court Northern District of New York on behalf of TMOA against Doggart and William Tint under the Freedom of Access to Clinics and Entrances (FACE Act). Barbara Rogers and Shane Schielein were added as defendants in February. “We will vigorously pursue by all legal means against anyone who interferes with our client’s right to live and practice their religion in this country freely,” stated Attorney Clark.