A fiery preacher labeled by some as anti-Islam was arrested Wednesday on charges stemming from his plan to burn 2,998 copies of the Koran — to match the number of victims killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on American soil.
The Rev. Terry Jones was heading to Florida with a trailer filled with Korans that had been soaked with kerosene, law enforcement officials said in The Los Angeles Times. His plans to burn the books in remembrance of the 9/11 victims weren’t exactly secret.
“My detectives had many conversations with Terry Jones prior to today,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement to the press. “He was told he was welcome to come to Polk County and express his first amendment rights. However, if he violated the law, he would absolutely be arrested and placed in the county jail.”
The statement continued: “On Sept. 11, he arrived in Polk County, violated the law and our detectives arrested him and booked him into the county jail, just as he was informed.”
One of Mr. Jones‘ traveling associates, Marvin Wayne Sapp Jr., also was arrested.
The L.A. Times reported that Mr. Jones was charged with unlawfully carting fuel and of openly carrying a firearm — a handgun on his hip at a McDonald’s in Mulberry, Fla. Mr. Sapp, meanwhile, was charged with unlawfully conveying fuel and with several traffic violations.
Mr. Jones said he was going to set fire to the Korans in remembrance “of the victims, every person who was murdered by Islam,” in a news release announcing the Wednesday event. The 2,998 casualty number included the 19 hijackers, likely by accident, The L.A. Times said.
Mr. Jones in 2010 first sparked national debate when he publicly announced intent to burn a Koran on Sept. 11, The Associated Press reported. He called off that event, but then his congregation subsequently set fire to the Koran during a March 2011 event. He’s also blamed by his detractors for sparking violence in the Middle East with his support for a film that was critical of Islam.