A Florida pastor was arrested on Wednesday as he was driving to a local park where he planned to light almost 3,000 Korans on fire in protest of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Pastor Terry Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., 44, were each brought in on a felony charge of unlawful conveyance of fuel. They were traveling in a pickup truck that was towing an oversized grill that was stuffed with Korans soaked in kerosene.
Jones wanted to burn 2,998 Korans, one for every victim of 9/11.
He had made his intentions known prior to his arrest, and many people in Mulberry, a small town of only 3,000 people, weren’t exactly thrilled with the radical pastor’s plan.
Pastor Jones first gained attention in 2010 when he first introduced the idea of burning the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11. He didn’t end up doing it then, but he did burn the holy book in March 2011 and also promoted an anti-Muslim film during 2012. After the 2011 Koran burning, hundreds of protesters stormed a U.N. compound in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan and killed seven foreigners, Fox News reported.
The U.S. military has repeatedly asked Jones not to stage his protests because they put American and Western troops in danger.
Prior to Jones’ arrest, about 75 people gathered in Mulberry for an interfaith prayer service to counter what the pastor was doing. Mike Ghouse came all the way from Texas to co-host a 9/11 prayer service in an effort to offset Jones’ planned Koran burning. He also teamed with a group of Mulberry residents to create an anti-Jones Facebook page.
"We don’t buy what Jones is selling,” said Polk County resident Butch Rahman.