Robert Doggart, apparently an ordained minister in something called the Christian National Church, pleaded guilty last month in a plot to massacre Muslims at an upstate New York village known as Islamberg. Doggart, a resident of Signal Mountain, Tenn., was detained by the FBI April 11 as he was evidently planning to burn down the school, mosque and cafeteria at Islamberg—formerly Hancock, in Delaware county along the Pennsylvania border, in the southwestern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. "Our small group will soon be faced with the fight of our lives," he wrote in an indiscreet social media post. "We will offer those lives as collateral to prove our commitment to our God. We shall be Warriors who will inflict horrible numbers of casualties upon the enemies of our Nation and World Peace." Court papers say he intended to use an M-4 assault rifle and explosives, and sought to recruit volunteers for the attack from right-wing militia groups. He was apprehended while planning a reconnaissance mission to Islamberg. Doggart ran as an independent for Congress in Tennessee's 4th District last year, but was handily defeated.
Doggart's guilty plea was the result of a deal in which he faced just one count of "interstate communication of threats." He was released after posting $30,000 bond ahead of his sentencing, at which he'll face up to five years in prison. The lenient deal outraged the Muslims of America group that runs the community at Islamberg. "Doggart is an example of the results of unchecked and rampant Islamophobia which has spread lies for years about our peaceful community," the group's public relations director, Muhammad Matthew Gardner, said. "This man plotted to mercilessly kill us, kill our children, and blow up our mosque and our school… 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 press release included a picture of Islamberg's children (seemingly mostly African Americans) holding a banner reading, "Why do you want to kill us, Robert Doggart?" (Daily Caller, May 20; Daily News, May 18)
Responses have been predictable. AJ+ (the blogging and vlogging wing of Al Jazeera) posts a video decrying both media inattention to this case of Christian terrorism and the fact that federal prosecutors quietly offered Doggart a sweet deal. This is contrasted with the usual treatment of would-be Muslim terrorists, who are trumpeted before the press and luridly sensationalized as a public menace. This despite the fact that Doggart's terror plot was evidently real, whereas the overwhelming majority of Muslim "terrorist" busts in the US are utterly specious: usually, harmless hot-heads are fed a plot concocted by an FBI infiltrator posing as an operative from ISIS or al-Qaeda or whatever.
Meanwhile, the right-wing blogosphere (e.g. WND) offers utterly dubious and poorly sourced claims that Muslims of America has been involved in violence and plans "terrorist training camps."
Neither side notes the greatest irony: Muslims of America leader El Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gillani, of Pakistani origin, is an imam of the Qadiri Sufi order—and a vocal critic of fundamentalist Islam. He has spoken out (presumably at great risk to himself) against the influence of Wahhabis in America. (Islamic Post, Jan. 29, 2013)
As usual, the Sufis get it from both sides.
Status of Islamberg: correction
A reader writes from upstate New York:
Yes, we had figured out that (contrary to what media accounts picked up from Wikipedia) Hancock is an incorporated town and village, not a hamlet. We had a hunch that (again, contrary to mainstream accounts we cited) Islamberg had not actually subsumed Hancock but is a separate community within the municipality. Thank you for confirming.
And for those outraged at the notion of an Islamberg, NY… We wonder how they feel about Kiryas Joel—an incorporated village within the town of Monroe, Orange county, NY, named for Joel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Hasidic rabbi who founded it in the 1970s…
Anti-Muslim biker rally punks out
An "American Bikers United Against Jihad" planned to hold a hundreds-strong "Ride for National Security" at Islamberg, NY, over the weekend. But a whopping five actually showed up—to be greeted by some 400 pro-tolerance counter-protesters, many bussed in by the NAACP chapter in Oneonta. Coverage at The Guardian, Southern Tier TWC, Watershed Post, Margaretville, AllOtsego, Oneonta Daily Star.
Another planned attack on Islamberg uncovered
Four Rochester-area men have been arrested in connection to a plotted attack on a Muslim enclave in the Catskills. Officials say police recovered numerous firearms and IEDs after executing search warrants. The target was said to be the community of Islamberg, in Delaware County. The investigation began at Greece Odyssey High School when a student notified a security officer after overhearing others talking about what was assumed to be a planned school shooting. (Spectrum News, Buffalo)