Pastor Terry Jones from Gainesville, Fla., who has been at the center of controversies for burning the Quran in the past, and urging people around the world to follow suit, was arrested on Wednesday, when he was on his way to set ablaze about 3,000 copies of the holy book to protest the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Sept.11, 2001.
Jones, 61, and his associate pastor, Marvin Sapp Jr., were arrested on charges of felony, as they towed 2,998 Qurans -- same as the number of people who died in the 2001 terrorist attacks, Orlando Sentinel reported. Jones said he was driving to a nearby park to set fire to the Qurans, which were soaked in kerosene.
“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,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd was quoted as saying by Orlando Sentinel.
Jones, who is the pastor of an evangelical Christian church, first announced plans to burn copies of the Quran on the 2010 anniversary of the terrorist attacks, drawing widespread condemnation, including from President Barack Obama, the Pentagon and the Department of State.
However, the preacher called off the plan after conflicting reports emerged over a deal to set up an Islamic religious center near Ground Zero in New York, but not before his announcement caused outrage in Muslim nations including Afghanistan, where thousands of people took to the streets chanting anti-U.S. slogans.
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In March 2011, his congregation set fire to the holy book, which sparked widespread protests across Muslim nations. After the burning of the Quran in 2011, hundreds of protesters attacked a United Nations compound in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan, leading to the death of seven foreign nationals, including four Nepalese guards.
In 2012, Jones promoted a low-budget, anti-Muslim film produced by an individual residing in the U.S., which resulted in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
In November 2012, an Egyptian court convicted Jones in absentia, along with seven Egyptian Coptic Christians on charges linked to the anti-Islam film that had spurred the protests.