Bomb plot: Springfield, Ill., courthouse

Federal courthouse was target
September 25, 2009 4:31:11 AM PDT
Federal agents disrupted an alleged terror plot to bomb the federal courthouse in Springfield.Michael Finton, 29, is charged with trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction and murder federal employees.

Click here to read the complaint against Michael Finton

Authorities say Finton actually tried to blow up what he thought was a one-ton bomb. But the device was a fake.

Michael Finton worked part-time as a deep fry cook at a Decatur restaurant. He also spent time online. He had a MySpace account, and blogged about his love for Islam. Finton says he converted to Islam while serving time in an Illinois prison for aggravated robbery and battery. Records show he was behind bars from 1999 to 2005.

Now Finton is back in custody in Springfield, and facing federal charges.

Finton's alleged plot involved undercover officers.

"The fact that this terrorist plot was foiled is great tribute to their good work," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

The FBI says Finton drove a van that he believed was packed with about one ton of explosives and parked it in front of the federal building and courthouse in Springfield.

The FBI says Finton got out of the van, hopped into another car and dialed a cell phone to remotely detonate the bomb. The bomb was fake. And the feds immediately arrested the 29-year-old downstate resident.

"He talked about a number of different targets...the FBI building, the Decatur Police Department. This is just one that he identified and was important for him to attack," said John Stafford, FBI assistant special agent in charge.

Finton's blog features several videos. Some of those videos show an array of explosives like roadside bombs that have killed American military members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The feds say Finton also idolized and even wrote a letter to John Walker Lindh, the imprisoned U.S. citizen who was captured fighting for the Taliban.

In Thursday's complaint, authorities also alleged that he visited Saudi Arabia and supposedly became engaged to a royal princess.

He is a terror suspect, born in the United States and living in the Midwest.

"You live anywhere in illinois, nobody left out when it comes to biting for democracy and prevailing over terrorism," said Quinn.

Also on Thursday, authorities say another terror suspect was acting alone and plotting to bomb this Dallas skyscraper.

A 19-year-old Jordanian national, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, was arrested after planting what he thought was a bomb at the 60-story building.

Like Illinois' case, authorities say the bomb was fake. And undercover agents arrested the suspect.

Finton and Smadi's cases are similar, but they are not connected to each other. Both men, however, could spend life in prison if they're convicted.


Load Comments