Pro-Trump Would-be Terror Bomber Gets Probation: Man Plots To Massacre Muslims, Judge Sets Him Free
March 30, 2016
Justin Salhani / ThinkProgress & Justin Salhani / ThinkProgress & Judd Legum / ThinkProgress
A 55-year-old man from California will spend 90 days in jail after being caught in possession of a bomb and threatening to kill Muslims. Under a plea deal he was offered probation and banned from Facebook. Meanwhile, in NY, a former Congressional candidate admitted to "plotting the annihilation" of a Muslim community with "500 rounds of ammunition, a pistol, and a machete." A federal judge released the man "into the custody of family members."
Trump Supporter Given 90 Days and Probation
For Building Bomb to Kill Muslim Citizens
Justin Salhani / ThinkProgress
(March 26, 2016) -- William Celli, a 55-year-old man from California, will spend 90 days in jail after being caught in possession of an explosive device and threatening to kill Muslims. Celli took a plea deal that places him on probation for a further three years and bans him from operating an active Facebook profile.
Celli was arrested on December 20, 2015 after yelling, "I'm going to kill you all" outside the Islamic Society of West Contra Costa County in Richmond, California. Police later found and detonated an explosive device at Celli's residence after receiving tips that he was constructing homemade explosives.
Celli had taken to social media in the past to express his admiration of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. "Donald trumps on again I'm happy leaders okay but this guys a great point man I'll follow this MAN to the end of the world," Celli wrote on Facebook in October.
Despite political rhetoric demonizing Muslims worldwide, radical rightwing activists are a greater threat to Americans than jihadists, according to recent studies.
Some people took to social media to decry the sentence as too lenient. Nonetheless, American-Muslim groups welcomed the development.
"We welcome the jail time handed out in this case and are appreciative of the cooperation and support from law enforcement and the district attorney's office shown to the local Muslim community," the Council on American-Islamic Relations SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo said in a statement. "At a time when attacks on mosques and Muslim individuals are at an all-time high, this will send a message that such actions will have consequences."
Celli's sentence is lenient, though, in comparison with that of the Duka brothers. Three brothers from this family of Albanian Muslim immigrants are currently serving life sentences (two of the brothers were sentenced to life sentences plus 30 years) for allegedly planning an attack on Fort Dix.
The brothers were sentenced despite being caught on tape multiple times denying any intent to undertake such an attack. They were arrested while illegally buying firearms.
Celli isn't the first American to get a relatively lenient sentence for threatening Muslims, either. Robert Rankin Doggart, a former candidate for Congress, said he was "plotting the annihilation" of a Muslim community in New York but was let go on a guilty plea. [See story below. -- EAW.]
Right-Wing Terrorists Are Killing More Americans
Than Jihadists -- and Now The DOJ Will Act
Justin Salhani / ThinkProgress
(October16, 2015) -- The Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a new post to fight domestic terrorism. The new position will coordinate investigations into a phenomena that has killed more Americans than foreign terrorism since 9/11.
The DOJ did not say who would take the new role but said that the position's responsibilities include assisting federal prosecutors working on domestic terrorism cases.
In recent years, the US government's counterterrorism policy has largely focused on Islamist radicals. This is largely a reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile, attacks from right-wing radicals have largely been overlooked by officials.
This is despite the fact that attacks from rightwing radicals have led to more deaths than "homegrown jihadists" since 9/11, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
In fact, since the twin towers were hit, self-proclaimed jihadists have killed 26 people in the US whereas rightwing radicals have killed 48, so says statistics provided by the New America Foundation.
"We've seen lone actor attacks about every 33 days, mostly white supremacist or anti-government extremists," Heidi Beirich of SPLC told NBC News. "Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate -- anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs. When it comes to hate and intolerance, no single ideology governs."
The most notable attack by a white supremacist this year was in Charleston, South Carolina in June. A young man entered the Emanuel A.M.E. church, sat for an hour with worshippers, then shot and killed nine black Americans. He had regularly posed with flags that represented his white supremacist views.
"We recognize that, over the past few years, more people have died in this country in attacks by domestic extremists than in attacks associated with international terrorist groups," Assistant Attorney General John Carlin said during a speech at George Washington University this past week.
During the talk, Carlin said he has spoken to many local law enforcement officials and that they've identified the largest domestic threat: people who call themselves sovereign citizens. A sovereign citizen believes that they are no beholden to any laws, courts, or law enforcement officials.
"Looking back over the past few years, it is clear that domestic terrorists and homegrown violent extremists remain a real and present danger to the United States," Carlin said.
Man Admits Plotting To Massacre Muslims,
Judge Sets Him Free Anyway
Judd Legum / ThinkProgress
(July 5, 2015) -- Robert Rankin Doggart, a former candidate for Congress, admitted in federal court to "plotting the annihilation" of a village in New York that is home to many Muslims. Doggart's plans included "burning down a school, a mosque and a cafeteria," according to the criminal complaint.
"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 allegedly said according to the transcript of a wiretap cited in the complaint. He also allegedly tried to recruit other individuals to participate in his plot through a Facebook group.
As part of a plea agreement, Doggart pled guilty to "interstate communication of threats" and faces up to five years in prison. He was in jail awaiting final sentencing.
But a federal judge, Curtis Collier, may not accept the guilty plea. He's ordered the prosecution and defense to produce briefs proving that Doggart was a "true threat." Meanwhile, a different federal judge, Magistrate Susan K. Lee, released Doggart from jail "into the custody of two family members."
Lee had previously found that Doggart was a "danger to the community." The government appealed the decision to release Doggart to Judge Collier, who affirmed Lee's decision.
Doggart's release has drawn criticism from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim advocacy group. "It is deeply troubling that an individual who has admitted to planning a religiously-motivated terror attack on American Muslims is now free, while the intended targets of his plot remain unprotected," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement.
CAIR had previously criticized the prosecutor's decision not to treat Doggart's conduct "as an act of terrorism and to charge the alleged organizer of the attack as a terrorist."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center -- and academics studying the issue -- the United States has focused on combating Islamic extremism but given short shrift to other threats like domestic attacks by right-wing radicals. Since 9/11, "more people have been killed in America by non-Islamic domestic terrorists than jihadists."
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