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Man held for plotting to blow up US court

world Updated: Sep 25, 2009 20:20 IST

An American convert to Islam was on Thursday charged with a plot to blow up the court building in Springfield, Illinois and trigger mass murder.

Michael Finton, who converted to Islam in jail some time ago to become Talib Islam, was arrested on Wednesday after an undercover operation which began in 2007. He has been charged with plotting to blow up the Paul Findley Federal Building in Springfield and murder government employees.

According to documents filed in the court, Finton's plot was unearthed after he was arrested for a parole violation in 2007.

After his arrest, when police searched his vehicle, they found letters mentioning martyrdom and his links with John Walker Lindh, the 'American Taliban' who was captured in Afghanistan by US forces in 2001.

Immediately after this, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) set up a task force to tail Finton who worked in a restaurant. Court documents say the FBI first used a drug informant to become friendly with Finton who revealed that he wanted to get arms training and fight against Israelis in Gaza.

Then the FBI used another undercover agent to pose as an Al-Qaeda operative to 'help' Finton in his plot.

Finton told the undercover agent in July that he was planning attacks on government buildings, banks and police stations to force the US to withdraw from Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. He further told the undercover agent that he planned to use a backpack bomb or explosive-laden vehicle to blow up the federal building in Springfield.

A month later in August, the agent tricked Finton by telling him that his terror plan had been okayed by Al-Qaeda bosses and he should prepare a videotaped message to be shown to Osama bin Laden and others.

Finton, who made statements acknowledging he knew everyone in the Paul Findley Federal Building would be killed, allegedly met up with the agent on Wednesday, believing he would be carrying out a mass-casualty bomb attack against the building.

The agent helped Finton load a dummy bomb into a van. The man drove it and parked it near the court building.

As he was making a cell phone call that was supposedly to set off the blast, Finton was arrested by the FBI.