Andrew Dys

York County sheriff vows to protect Islamville Muslims after plot to attack similar N.Y. community

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant
York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant

York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant vowed Wednesday that his officers would continue to make sure to assure residents and worshipers at Holy Islamville – a Muslim community near York – are safe after a plot to massacre a similar community of Muslims in New York was foiled by the FBI.

Robert Doggart, 63, a failed congressional candidate from Tennessee with ties to South Carolina anti-government and anti-Muslim militias, faces years in prison after pleading guilty to threatening to blow up Islamberg in Upstate New York. Islamberg and Islamville are sister communities of a Muslim sect, and many Islamville residents have family who were targeted for death in Islamberg.

Doggart’s court file was only unsealed days ago, prompting safety concerns among Muslims and demands that he should be tried as a terrorist. Doggart also threatened to shoot any police officers who got in his way in the plot to destroy a Muslim community and kill its residents.

Sheriff Bryant said criminals such as Doggart threaten the safety of all Americans.

“This guy who wanted to cause chaos in New York, who planned to go after innocent people and also was targeting law enforcement who tried to stop him – we will not tolerate that in York County,” he said. “The people who live at Islamville, and the people who gather at Islamville, they are citizens of America, this state and York County, and we will do everything we can to protect them as we would for any other resident of York County.”

Doggart tried to recruit South Carolina residents for the New York attack and had traveled to South Carolina as recently as March, court documents show. FBI spokeswoman Denise Taiste declined to comment on what investigation, if any, is ongoing in South Carolina concerning Doggart or others who might have been part of the plot.

The family of Ramadan Sayeed Shakir, the mayor of Islamville, was among those targeted in New York. Shakir’s wife grew up in Islamberg in New York, and her parents, siblings and cousins still live there.

“We still would like to know if there has been any concern on the part of the federal government of anti-Muslim targeting towards us at Islamville at the hands of not just Mr. Doggart, but anyone else,” Shakir said. “It makes sense that if people targeted a community that is just like ours, they might target us, too.”

Islamville has been in York County for three decades since its founding by black Muslims who fled Northeastern cities. It has a mosque and housing, just like the targets documents show Doggart had identified at Islamberg.

Islamville residents have kept an “open relationship” with law enforcement for three decades, Bryant said, and his officers routinely visit the community. There is “no truth at all,” he said, to rumors or media reports that there has ever been a Muslim training ground at Holy Islamville.

“That is plainly untrue,” Bryant said. “There has never been any kind of training camp, obstacle course or anything there. As far as York County law enforcement is concerned, there is no threat there and never has been a threat.

“York County residents need to know that these people are a part of the community, and that the community is safe.”

Islamville residents deserve and will receive equal treatment from police in York County, he said.

“I do not believe what they believe concerning religion,” Bryant said, “but these are people who live in York County who will be treated with respect and who will receive the best that the York County Sheriff’s Office can offer. Freedom of religion is guaranteed in this country. This is America.”

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065 •