Grand Jury Indicts Illinois Man Previously Charged with Attempt to Bomb Courthouse and Murder Federal Employees

SPRINGFIELD—A federal grand jury today returned a two-count indictment charging Michael C. Finton, a.k.a., “Talib Islam,” as previously charged in a criminal complaint, with attempted murder of a federal officer or employee and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against property owned by the United States. Finton, 29, of Decatur, Ill., was arrested on September 23, in connection with an alleged plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at the federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill.

The indictment alleges that on September 23, 2009, Finton parked a van that he believed contained approximately a ton of explosives in front of the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse, at 600 East Monroe Street, intending that the detonation of the bomb would destroy the building and kill its occupants. Finton allegedly left the van and used a cellular telephone at a nearby location to send a signal he believed would detonate the bomb in the van.

According to the affidavit filed on September 24, in support of the criminal complaint, in his alleged efforts to carry out the plot, Finton ultimately dealt with undercover FBI agents and confidential sources who continuously monitored his activities up to the time of his arrest. FBI agents arrested Finton immediately after he allegedly attempted to detonate the device, which actually contained inactive materials.

If convicted, Finton faces a maximum penalty of life in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property owned by the U.S. The penalty for attempting to murder a federal officer or employee is up to 20 years in prison.

During his initial appearance in federal court in Springfield on September 24, Finton waived his right to a detention hearing and was ordered to remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

The investigation was conducted by the Springfield FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and assisting law enforcement agencies. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney David E. Risley from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois, with assistance from Trial Attorney Joanna Baltes from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The public is reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.