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 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

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AMP  Report - May 25, 2015

When terrorism is not terrorism - Take Two

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Have you heard about a plot to wipe out an American Muslim suburb in New York State.

Most probably not, because the mainstream corporate media hardly mentioned this news since the plotter is an ordained minister in the Christian National Church and former congressional candidate from Signal Mountain, Tennessee. He was caught on tape and on social media talking about wiping out a Muslim community in upstate New York.

On April 10, Robert R. Doggart was arrested for plotting to kill Muslims and destroy a mosque in Islamberg, a Muslim area in the state of New York.  He had spoken about his plans to attack targets in Islamberg during phone calls and also on his Facebook page.

Two weeks after his arrest, he pleaded guilty to “interstate communication of threats,” a charge that carries a sentence of between 0 and 5 years in prison, along with a fine. He was not charged with terrorism, or even with a hate crime. He wasn’t even charged with “conspiracy” despite having talked to numerous individuals around the country to plan his attack. And despite his murderous threats and the fact the he is armed, he is currently out on bail, awaiting sentencing.

According to a plea agreement filed on April 29 in US District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee, Doggart told an FBI informant that he was planning to attack the residents of a Muslim community known as Islamberg near Hancock, New York. 

Much of the evidence against Doggart was obtained by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents from numerous wiretap interceptions of the defendant’s cell phone calls authorized on March 15 by Federal Judge Sandy Mattice. In addition to the phone calls during March and April, he also posted threats against the Upstate New York town on Facebook, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent James G. Smith.

"We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace," he wrote in one Facebook post. It "must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people," Doggart wrote in a February Facebook post.

In a call recorded March 17, Doggart told a woman "we're gonna be carrying an M4 with 500 rounds of ammunition, light armor piercing. A pistol with three extra magazines and a machete. And if it gets down to the machete, we will cut them to shreds."

Doggart “spoke on the phone with an individual in South Carolina as recently as April 9, 2015, regarding a plan to burn a mosque” in Islamberg, a small Muslim community near Hancock, NY, the affidavit reported.

The village, in Delaware County, is a predominantly Muslim religious community and has been the target of persistent claims from right-wing groups about alleged jihadist terrorist camps. Earlier this year, the local police department said it was “perplexed” by the allegations and had seen no evidence supporting them on several visits.

According to, Duggart’s attorney used his political experience, career, family and accomplishments as an argument for his release on bond until sentencing. Duggart was originally held in custody until he entered his guilty plea at the end of April. The defense then asked for his release and it was granted by the judge. The government appealed, but the judge upheld the ruling.

Although the prosecution, lead by Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry H. Piper argued for Doggart’s continued detention, on May 6, 2015, the magistrate judge shockingly ordered his release subject to multiple conditions, including electronic monitoring, no internet activity, posting a $30,000 unsecured bond and staying away from any of the victims or potential victims.

Doggart does not face charges of a hate crime or terrorism.

Doggart's story virtually ignored by the mainstream media

Not surprisingly, Doggart's story virtually ignored by the mainstream corporate media.

The Daily Beast wrote on May 18: "Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law-enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest.

"The criminal complaint against Doggart, filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tennessee, paints a bone-chilling picture of a plan to launch a violent military-style assault on Islamberg, home to about 200  predominately black Muslim Americans. Right-wing media outlets have in the past made outlandish claims about the town, which have been consistently debunked by local law enforcement."

"It goes without saying that if Doggart had been Muslim and had planned to kill Christians in America, we would have seen wall-to-wall media coverage,” the daily Beast said adding that a major reason that the case has not gotten more attention: the tendency for journalists to rely on official sources to tell them what stories are important.

According to Fair & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), one big reason for the lack of media coverage was that neither the FBI nor the US Attorney’s office put out a press release about Doggart’s arrest.  In contrast, the FBI office in Knoxville, the one that handled this investigation, has posted press releases for numerous other recent arrests, such as for drug crimes and robbery charges.

Eli Stephens writing on May 21 in Liberation News says: It goes without saying that the coverage of this story, and the treatment Doggart would have received from the legal system, would have been completely different had he been a Muslim targeting a synogogue and a Jewish community.

“Doggart is an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community,” said Muhammad Matthew Gardner, the Public Relations Director of the Islamberg-based The Muslims of America (TMOA).  “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 have and where are his accomplices?”

“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,” Gardner said. “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.”

"You cannot imagine the level of disruption Mr. Doggart's threat has caused the families of Islamberg," said Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, general counsel for TMOA, said in a news conference Monday, local media reported. "We believe that Mr. Doggart should be charged to the fullest extent with every charge that is applicable to his actions, including hate crimes and terrorism." The plea agreement is an example of a legal double standard, according to Amatul-Wadud, who has called for a meeting with Department of Justice officials. "Anybody who purports to be Muslim and acts inconsistently with the laws would certainly be charged with terrorism," she said. "There should be no discrepancy in how the law is applied to Muslims versus someone who is not Muslim."

“If a Muslim had planned to carry out such a religiously-motivated deadly attack, he would certainly have been labeled a terrorist and charged accordingly,” said National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “We ask the Obama administration to rescind the plea agreement, which – as it stands – could see this individual free in the community.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America.

Read also: When terrorism is not terrorism - Take One