Illinois: Muslim convert charged with plot to bomb courthouse

finton-talib-islamUpdates below.

CHICAGO (AP) – A 29-year-old man who idolized American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh has been arrested after attempting to set off what he thought was a powerful bomb in a van outside a federal courthouse in the Illinois capital of Springfield, officials said Thursday.

Michael C. Finton, who also went under the name Talib Islam, was arrested Wednesday and charged in a criminal complaint with one count of attempting to murder federal officers or employees and trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction. Federal officials say the case has no connection with the major terrorism investigation under way in Colorado and New York or the Thursday arrest of a man on one of the same charges in Dallas.

“This alleged plot drives home the stark reality that we must avoid complacency and remain ever vigilant to the threats that violent extremists may pose to the public safety,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey B. Lang said.

Finton appeared in federal court in Springfield on Thursday and said he was an unmarried, part-time cook at a fish and chicken restaurant in the central Illinois city of Decatur. He was ordered held in jail pending action by a grand jury.

In the months leading up to the arrest, Finton had been closely monitored by agents including an FBI special officer who posed as a low-level operative of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terrorist network, according to a federal affidavit.

It said the officer on Wednesday presented Finton with a van containing materials he described as explosive but which actually were harmless. The two men parked the van at the courthouse and close to the office of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., which Finton allegedly hoped also would be damaged.

They then drove a short distance to where Finton twice used a cell phone to try to detonate the explosives, the affidavit said. He was arrested immediately.

The FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force decided to provide Finton with a controlled opportunity to think he was going through with his violent plan, the affidavit said. The task force considered it safer than monitoring him while he acted on his own, possibly with help from contacts he may have had in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to launch such a scheme, the affidavit said.

The affidavit traced two years of activities by Finton leading up to the alleged bomb plot and arrest. It said Finton’s parole on a previous conviction was revoked in August 2007 and writings found at the time included reference to a letter to Lindh, who was captured fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“I am awaiting a return letter from John Walker Lindh,” it said. The affidavit said Finton later told police and agents he had written such a letter and that he idolized Lindh, who is now in prison.

Public records show Finton was in an Illinois prison from 1999 until 2005 after being convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated battery. After getting out, Finton told his parole officer he had converted to Islam, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Finton’s bank records showed that in March 2008 he received a wire transfer of $1,375.14 from “Asala Hussain Abiba” in Saudi Arabia and the next day sent the money to a travel agency. It said that April, he went on a monthlong trip to Saudi Arabia.

He later told an FBI informant he was engaged to marry the daughter of a “shaykh,” according to the affidavit. In talks with the informant, Finton said he wanted to fight with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and expressed an intense interest in the commando-style assault carried out by extremists that killed 166 people in Mumbai, India, late last year.g1a91905875dc440a3fd30d67b4b76e788c53ee8eca50ae.jpg

“Finton stated that all the ‘brothers’ need that type of training,” the affidavit said.

The informant introduced Finton to the FBI special officer posing as an al-Qaida officer in February, the affidavit said. In talks with the officer, Finton expressed a desire to receive military training and fight in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia or elsewhere, it said.

The affidavit said Finton spent months looking for a U.S. target before settling on the Paul Findley Federal Office Building and Courthouse. He also said the nearby office of Republican U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock could be a “secondary target,” the affidavit said.

Schock said in a Thursday statement that he was “grateful to the FBI for their fine work in preventing this terrorist attack.” Press secretary Dave Natonski said police had asked Schock not to say anything more.

The maximum penalty for attempted murder of federal officers and detonation of a weapon of mass destruction is life in prison.

Records indicate that, in addition to Decatur, Finton had lived in Olney in southeastern Illinois and Mount Vernon, about 70 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Finton maintained a page on MySpace dedicated to a variety of Islamic and Middle Eastern themes. In a handful of blog entries, he wrote about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and criticized Israel. He also posted long entries about Islam and the Middle East.

via Omaha.com – The Omaha World-Herald: National AP – Man charged with plot to bomb Ill. courthouse.

Updates:

State Journal – Register of Springfield, Illinois has more details including:

* PDF: Read complaint

The Decatur man accused of trying to bomb the Paul Findley Federal Building knew police were interested in him, according to an email he sent to U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Rock Island, more than nine months ago.

In the email, Michael C. Finton, who also uses the name Talib Islam, complained that his phone had been tapped for two years, that the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the FBI and members of local law enforcement agencies, had taken books and documents from him for no reason and that police had raided his home “on an obviously bogus warrant.”

Finton asked Hare for help and advice.

“I love my religion just like I love my country,” Finton wrote in the email, according to a copy he subsequently posted on the Internet. “Every few months here come the police. Every few months another federal agency and yet more harassment.”

Tim Schlittner, Hare’s spokesman, said the congressman’s office told Finton he should seek legal counsel. There was no reason to notify law enforcement because the email contained no threats, Schlittner said.

If Finton loved America, he was also a frequent critic, according to Marcus Smith, a former layout editor at The Communicatur, a student newspaper at Richland Community College in Decatur. While Finton was not enrolled in journalism classes, he was involved with the newspaper and had a few articles published.

“I got into some conversations with him,” Smith said. “At one point in time, I got to thinking, ‘Why does this person even choose to live in this country if he thinks we’re so evil?’ That’s the spin he put on everything: This is all America’s fault.”

Smith and Linda Boles, who was advisor to the newspaper, said Finton, whose MySpace page is decorated with a photo of a mosque, always wanted to talk about Islam.

“Every conversation, every staff meeting, turned into how Muslims are misunderstood,” Boles said. “Trying to teach them (students) about responsible news writing was very difficult — he tried to put a Muslim slant on everything. … The students were very open to his ideas, but he never followed through on anything.”

In a sworn affidavit, Stalets said Finton drew attention to himself after telling his parole officer he had converted to Islam while in prison and that he had moved to Decatur to attend a mosque. In an interview, acting U.S. attorney Jeffrey Lang would not say whether there was anything else that caused police to focus on Finton.

And the building this wannabe shahid was to blow up was named after a class A dhimmi:

The man for whom Springfield’s federal court building was named in 1982 was surprised Thursday to learn that the structure was the target of an alleged attempted bombing.

“I’m known favorably throughout the Muslim world,” said Findley, a Presbyterian. “I’ve always tried to speak out what I felt was best for the United States. I’ve never felt any particular faith has the only route to God’s blessing.”

It’s unknown what might have motivated Michael Finton — the Decatur man charged in the bombing plot. Also unknown is whether Finton knew about the leanings of Paul Findley.

Seriously? WTF is this writing talking about? Unknown? Finton made it pretty clear what motivated him – five letter word starting with I and ending with slam.

Posted in al qaeda, Alerts, Creeping Sharia, Illinois, jihad, Legal, Media, News, Politics, Religion, Sharia 1163411634116341163411634b.gif?host=creepingsharia.wordpress.com&blog=2837151&post=11634&subd=creepingsharia&ref=&feed=1

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