SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A 29-year-old Illinois man has been arrested on charges of planning to detonate a truck bomb to blow up a federal building in Springfield, authorities said.
Michael C. Finton, who also goes by Talib Islam and aspired to be a "jihadist fighter,"
drove a truck he believed carried nearly a ton of explosives Wednesday to the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse in Springfield, the state capital, federal authorities said. Finton, of Decatur, Ill., then got into a waiting car with an undercover FBI agent and, when the car got a few blocks away from the building, used a cell phone to try to set off explosives, authorities said.
The truck contained inactive explosives and Finton was arrested immediately after allegedly trying to detonate them.
He made his initial court appearance Thursday on charges of attempted murder of federal officers or employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Federal authorities said Finton "idolized" John Walker Lindh, an American who fought with the Taliban.
An affidavit alleges Finton suggested to an undercover FBI agent this year bombing the Findley building, conducted surveillance of the building and proposed a remotely detonated car bomb for the attack. In August, the affidavit says, Finton made videos and said in two of them he believed America was at war with Islam.
On Sept. 1, the affidavit said, Finton met with the undercover agent, was told the vehicle would be carrying nearly a ton of explosives and acknowledged the attack would cause civilian casualties but said they were justified.
"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 public safety," Jeffrey Lang, an acting U.S. attorney, said in a statement.
Federal authorities said the arrest is not connected to the investigation of an alleged terrorism plot in New York and suburban Denver.