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Florida Doctor Gets 12-1/2 Years in Anti-Islamic Plot


Reuters, Tampa, Jun. 19, 2003

"A Florida doctor was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in federal prison Thursday for plotting to blow up an Islamic center in retaliation for the Sep. 11 attacks on the United States. Robert Goldstein, a 38-year-old podiatrist, apologized to the Islamic community before he was handed the maximum sentence for conspiracy to violate civil rights, attempting to damage religious property and possessing unregistered firearms. 'I am truly sorry for my irresponsible behavior. I was so very lost at the time,' he said. 'I am a good person.' Goldstein was arrested in Aug. after police discovered an arsenal of homemade bombs and automatic weapons in his house near St. Petersburg. They also found a detailed plan for attacking the Islamic Center of Pinellas County and a list of 50 other Islamic centers and mosques around Florida."
"Authorities said Goldstein told a friend he wanted to retaliate against Arabs and Muslims for the Sep. 11, 2001, commercial jetliner attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington in which about 3,000 people were killed, and for hostilities in the Middle East. Goldstein pleaded guilty on Apr. 3. U.S. District Judge James Moody could have sentenced Goldstein to as little as 10 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines but said the seriousness of the offense justified the maximum allowable sentence. Goldstein's attorney, Myles Malman, said his client suffered from mental illness and had an obsession with guns and explosives. 'He feels extremely remorseful. He's not a terrorist,' Malman said. Malman said Goldstein did not intend to kill anyone but only wanted to blow up the building. But prosecutor Colleen Murphy-Davis said the written plan indicated Goldstein did intend to kill Muslims."
"Ahmad Batrawy, a member of the targeted Islamic center, said Goldstein deserved the maximum sentence because of the fear and anxiety his plot had caused among Muslims. 'We feel we have been harmed emotionally. We have been violated very severely,' Batrawy said. Last week, Moody sentenced Goldstein's ex-wife Kristi Persinger, 29, to three years in prison for illegal possession of five bombs. Persinger, who recently divorced Goldstein, said she did not know about her husband's plans."