In a criminal complaint, filed in court today, authorities say Michael Finton (aka Talib Islam which is Arabic for "student of Islam") plotted to blow up the federal building in downtown Springfield, Illinois.
The bomb was set to go off yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 23rd) after Finton drove a van to the building, parked it, then walked away to detonate the explosives remotely. When he tried, twice, he would learn 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.
Since that time, federal agents kept tabs on Finton. Later, they used an secret informant (also a Muslim person) to befriend Finton. The informant, who has prior felony drug convictions) provided information to terror investigators about Finton's beliefs that America was waging war on Muslims and his desire to get involved. A few months into the relationship, agents began taping Finton's conversations with the informant.
After the informant reported that Finton planned to contact someone in Egypt about getting into Gaza to fight Israeli troops, law enforcement used an undercover agent to pose an a low-level al-Qaeda operative.
The criminal complaint states that in recent months, the agent and Finton met to discuss terror plots. Finton allegedly planned the federal building explosion while the FBI provided a van and inert materials to make Finton believe he was really going to blow up the federal building.
Read the full complaint here.
Finton appeared in court today 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.