September 12, 2013

Florida "pastor" Terry Jones was arrested Wednesday as he drove a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with kerosene-soaked Qurans to a park, where he had said he was planning to burn 2,998 of the Muslim holy books -- one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


"Jones, 61, and Marvin Wayne Sapp Jr., 44, got as far as dousing the Qurans with gas before they were taken into custody around 5 p.m. at the Mulberry Pharmacy, located at 1009 Church Ave.

Jones and Sapp had emptied kerosene into a smoker/trailer that contained a stack of Qurans.

"Some were already inside the grill soaked in kerosene, the others were in boxes in the back of the pickup truck," Sapp's wife Stephanie confirmed.

The sheriff's office said they then dangerously transported the trailer filled with flammable material on a state road.

"He was potentially driving a bomb down the road, had there been a crash," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a news conference Wednesday night.

Multiple deputies also reported that they saw Jones carrying a firearm on his left hip in plain view of the general public in a McDonald's parking lot on East Canal Street."

Jones was charged with "unlawful conveyance of fuel" and "unlawful open carry of a firearm."

Sapp was charged with "unlawful conveyance of fuel" and having no valid registration for the smoker trailer he was towing.

Sapp's pickup and the smoker/trailer was confiscated, and the Qurans were seized as evidence and are now being held at the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Jones is the pastor of a small evangelical Christian church in Gainesville, Florida. He first gained attention in 2010 when he planned to burn a Quran on the anniversary of 9/11, although he eventually called it off. His congregation did burn the Muslim holy book in March 2011, and last year he promoted an anti-Muslim film. All three incidents sparked violence in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The most violent protests happened after the 2011 Quran burning as hundreds of protesters stormed a United Nations compound in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, killing seven foreigners, including four Nepalese guards.

Jones has repeatedly ignored pleas from the U.S. military asking him not to stage his protests. Military officials say his actions put American and Western troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in danger.

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