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A former candidate for Congress in Tennessee was charged Tuesday with plotting to burn down a mosque in New York state.
Robert R. Doggart, 63, of Sequatchie County, Tennessee, was indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of soliciting others to destroy religious property, a civil rights violation.
Investigators say he urged followers to join him in plans to set fire to a mosque near Hancock, New York, on the border with Pennsylvania. It's in a community known as Islamberg, a settlement with a large Muslim population.
According to court documents, he posted an item on Facebook, writing that his target "must be utterly destroyed in order to get the attention of the American people." The plot was never carried out.
Court documents say Doggart talked with a confidential source and with others on a cellphone the FBI was monitoring, saying he wanted to firebomb several buildings, including the mosque, a school and the cafeteria. In early April, he talked of planning to go to the area in New York "to conduct recon."
He was arrested in mid-April and agreed to plead guilty, but the judge rejected the proposed plea as legally insufficient.
Doggart ran for Congress as an independent last year against incumbent Republican Scott DesJarlais, getting about 6 percent of the vote.