A 29 year old, American-born man had a violent criminal history before his arrest by an FBI-led task force on Wednesday.
Michael Finton is accused of plotting to blow up the federal building in downtown Springfield, Illinois.
The bomb was set to go off Wednesday, Sept. 23rd after Finton drove a van to the building, parked it, then walked away to detonate the bomb remotely via cell phone that was provided to him by an undercover FBI agent - posing an al-Qaeda operative.
When Finton allegedly called the number to detonate the "bomb" twice, agents moved in and arrested him. Finton would learn later that there was no bomb and that his al-Qaeda contact is actually an undercover agent.
Finton is an ex-con who converted to Islam while in prison. He got the attention of law enforcement after violating parole in 2007 by moving to Decatur without properly notifying his parole officer. Police searched Finton's car and found writings in which Finton wrote about becoming a martyr and admired John Walker Lindh, an American who was captured fighting for the Taliban.
Finton spent seven years in several Illinois prisons following an aggravated robbery and aggravated battery conviction. February 3, 1999: Finton robbed and beat a woman in Olney, Illinois. He stole $323 and eight cartons of cigarettes, according to court records filed in Richland County Circuit Court.
Finton entered prison July 12, 1999 and was paroled May 1, 2006.
He went back to prison a year later and spent four months behind bars for a parole violation.
Finton appeared in court Thursday and waived his right to a bond hearing and a preliminary hearing. He is held without bond in the custody of U.S. Marshals.
The acting U.S. Attorney for the central district of Illinois says he expects Finton will appear in court again within 30 days.