By Allan Lengel
A man nicknamed the “Talib Islam” was sentenced to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to attempting to bomb the federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill., in September 2009, authorities said.
Michael C. Finton, 31, a U.S. citizen from Decatur, Ill., was busted in an FBI sting. He was sentenced in East St. Louis, Ill., federal court.
According to the plea agreement and court documents, Finton met on several occasions with someone he thought was linked to al Qaeda, when in fact the person was an undercover FBI agent.
During a meeting on July 29, 2009, Finton proposed targeting the federal building in Springfield and using two vehicles: the first to do the initial damage, and the second to attack the responders, authorities said.
Finton also suggested that if the bomb was big enough it might also “take out” the office of the congressman across the street from the federal building, authorities said.
Finton admitted traveling on Sept. 23, 2009, from Decatur to Springfield where he took control of a truck he thought contained a bomb with about one ton of explosives. The the bomb was actually fake.
Finton drove the truck to the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse at 600 East Monroe Street in Springfield, and parked it immediately outside the building and across the street from where a U.S. Congressman had an office.
After Finton parked the van and armed the device, he locked the truck and got into a vehicle with an undercover FBI agent agent whom he believed was associated with the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
Finton tried using a cell phone to try and detonate the bomb after he and the undercover agent had driven a safe distance away.
“Michael Finton is one of a number of young Americans over the past two years who, under the influence of a radical and violent ideology, have sought to carry out acts of terrorism in the United States,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Todd Hinnen said in a statement.
“Although a coordinated undercover law enforcement investigation thwarted Mr. Finton’s plot to destroy the federal courthouse in Springfield, this case underscores the need to remain vigilant against the threat posed by homegrown extremism.”