Tennessee man who planned attack against Muslim community sentenced to 20 years in prison

A former Congressional candidate from Tennessee Valley has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for plotting to burn down a mosque, a school and a cafeteria in upstate New York.

Robert Doggart, 65, was sentenced on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, where he was convicted in February of trying to recruit people to commit arson and violate civil rights.

Doggart’s plan was to attack, Islamberg, a community started by a group of African-American Muslims who moved from U.S. cities in the 1970s, is a gated community with dirt roads and several dozen small homes near the town of Hancock in New York’s Catskills Mountains.  The 200 or so members of the community, in which children are home-schooled and residents worship at a mosque built on the 70-acre property, follow a Pakistani Sufi cleric.

Doggart was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in April 2015 after saying in wiretapped telephone calls that he planned to recruit a militia and travel to Islamberg.

“It’s not just a war with Islam or Islamberg,” explained Saeed Mody, a prosecutor from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “It’s a war with the federal government.”

Evangelicals and Muslims together denounce Franklin Graham’s anti-Muslim remarks

WASHINGTON (RNS) An evangelical pastor from Texas joined American Muslim leaders Thursday (July 23) in denouncing recent anti-Muslim comments by evangelist Franklin Graham as they announced upcoming efforts to build bridges between their religious communities.

Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. speaks alongside Imam Mohamed Magid on Capitol Hill on Thursday (July 23, 2015) in response to Franklin Graham’s recent anti-Muslim remarks. Religion News Service photo by Sara Weissman
Pastor Bob Roberts Jr. speaks alongside Imam Mohamed Magid on Capitol Hill on Thursday (July 23, 2015) in response to Franklin Graham’s recent anti-Muslim remarks. Religion News Service photo by Sara Weissman

In response to the killing of five service members in Chattanooga, Tenn., last week, Graham, son of evangelical leader Billy Graham, wrote on Facebook that the U.S. should bar Muslims from immigrating.

Gun shop owner declares store ‘Muslim-free zone’ after recent shooting

A Florida gun shop owner has banned Muslim customers from his store. Andy Hallinan declared Florida Gun Supply in Inverness a “Muslim-free zone” Saturday in response to a Kuwait-born gunman’s shooting rampage in Chattanooga that killed four Marines and a sailor. Hallinan announced his shop’s new policy as he sat against a Confederate flag back drop.

In addition to barring Muslims from the store, Florida Gun Supply will also offer free conceal carry classes and open its practice shooting range to the public, Hallinan said. (WFLA)
In addition to barring Muslims from the store, Florida Gun Supply will also offer free conceal carry classes and open its practice shooting range to the public, Hallinan said. (WFLA)

For this Muslim scholar, the Chattanooga shooting brought a familiar sinking feeling

That was the first thought Omid Safi says went through his head when he saw news about the deadly shooting attack in Chattanooga on Thursday.

Mourners places flags at a growing memorial in front of the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16, 2015. Four Marines were killed on Thursday by a gunman who opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before being fatally shot himself in an attack officials called a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism.  Credit: Tami Chappell/Reuters
Mourners places flags at a growing memorial in front of the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16, 2015. Four Marines were killed on Thursday by a gunman who opened fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before being fatally shot himself in an attack officials called a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism. Credit: Tami Chappell/Reuters

Then came a familiar sinking feeling. “Not because the suspect is Muslim,” says Safi, who directs the Islamic Studies Center at Duke University. “When there is an act like this, it tends to undo all of the good work that has taken place in the community over the last years and months, and in particular in the month of Ramadan.”

The Latest: Chattanooga’s Muslim Community Mourns Marines

A Muslim psychiatrist says he and others in Chattanooga’s Muslim community are mourning the deaths of four Marines fatally shot by a man who attended the local mosque.

Pakastani-born Dr. Mohsin Ali told more than 1,000 mourners gathered at a Friday evening memorial service that the Muslim community is appalled by the actions of Muhammad Abdulazeez.

Referring to Abdulazeez as “the murderer,” Ali called the shooting “cowardly and cruel.”  He also asked all Muslims in attendance who “pledge your allegiance to this city and this country, to this community” to “stand up and be recognized.”

Chattanooga Gunman Researched Islamic Martyrdom, Officials Say

WASHINGTON — Counterterrorism investigators have uncovered evidence the gunman who killed five service members last week in Chattanooga, Tenn., searched the Internet in the days leading up to the attack for Islamic materials about whether martyrdom would lead to forgiveness for his sins, like drunkenness and financial debt, according to law enforcement officials.

A family representative in Tennessee, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said Mr. Abdulazeez went to Jordan last year because “folks in his family wanted to get him out of being around bad influences in Chattanooga,” including drugs. The uncle and grandfather “were going to give him some work to do and watch him and see if they could get him back on the right track.”