Michael C. Finton, also known as Talib Islam (Arabic: طالب إسلام – Ṭạlib Islām meaning "student of Islam"; born 1980), is an American convert to Islam and a part-time cook who attempted to bomb the Paul Findley Federal Building and the adjacent offices of Congressman Aaron Schock in downtown Springfield, Illinois, on 24 September 2009. He pleaded guilty in federal court on 9 May 2011 and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Michael Finton
Michael Curtis Finton

1980 (age 43–44)
Other namesTalib Islam (طالب إسلام)
OccupationFry cook
Criminal statusIncarcerated at United States Penitentiary, Big Sandy
Allegiance al-Qaeda
Conviction(s)pled guilty
Criminal charge1) attempt to murder, with malice aforethought, at least one US federal officer and employee;
2) attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction against property owned by the US.
Penalty28 years incarceration

A resident of Decatur, Illinois, Finton was arrested by an undercover agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Anti-Terrorism Task Force, who was posing as an Al-Qaeda operative. He was charged with attempted murder and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.



Finton has said he was born in Visalia, California, and moved with his family to Warren, Michigan, where he attended high school. He later moved to Illinois.[1]

Assault conviction and conversion


On February 3, 1999, Finton robbed a store in Olney, Illinois, and injured the clerk on duty.[2] Finton was convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery, and spent 1999–2005 in prison.

During this period, he converted to Islam,[3][4] and after leaving prison, he occasionally attended services at the Masjid Wali Hasan Islamic Center.[5]

Finton admired Anwar Al-Awlaki, a Muslim lecturer suspected by the US government of having ties to Al-Qaeda (Al-Awlaki was killed by a US drone in September 2011 in Yemen). Finton had quoted the cleric on his Myspace page.[6][7]

Planning and attempting attack; arrest


After returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia in 2008, Finton happened to make contact with an undercover FBI agent, who posed as an Al-Qaeda operative. The FBI agent worked with him to plan an attack on the Springfield Federal Building and procure the supplies to carry it out.[8]

On September 24, 2009, Finton drove a truck filled with an inert substance that he believed to be "a ton of explosives" to the federal courthouse building, parked, locked it, and left in another vehicle driven by the undercover FBI agent. Finton tried to detonate the dummy explosives remotely via cell-phone. He was arrested and placed in federal custody on charges of terrorism and attempting to kill a federal employee.[8]


Finton was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 8, 2009, for attempted murder and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property owned and used by the US.[9] On May 9, 2011, he pleaded guilty and was immediately sentenced to 28 years in prison.[10] He was imprisoned at USP Florence High. On June 27, 2021, Finton was transferred to USP Big Sandy with BOP# 17031-026.

See also



  1. ^ Rushton, Bruce, "Man accused in bombing plot known for strong stance on Islam," Peoria Journal Star, 24 September 2009, accessed 18 December 2009
  2. ^ Ryden, Kevin. "Ryden, Kevin, "Finton convicted in Olney after taking cash, smokes in armed robbery," Olney Daily Mail, accessed December 18, 2009". Olneydailymail.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  3. ^ Pelofsky, Jeremy (September 24, 2009). "Illinois man charged in plot to bomb federal offices". Reuters. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
  4. ^ "2 Men Charged in Alleged U.S. Bomb Plots; Illinois Muslim Convert, Texas Man from Jordan Allegedly Obtained Dummy Bombs from FBI Operatives," CBS News, September 25, 2009, accessed December 18, 2009
  5. ^ Johnson, Dirk, "Suspect in Illinois Bomb Plot ‘Didn’t Like America Very Much’", The New York Times, 27 September 2009, December 18, 2009
  6. ^ Gruen, Madeleine, "Attempt to Attack the Paul Findley Federal Building in Springfield, Illinois," The NEFA Foundation, December 2009, accessed December 18, 2009 Archived March 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Meek, James Gordon, "Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan 'is a hero': Imam who preached to 9/11 hijackers in Va. praises attack," New York Daily News, November 9, 2009, accessed November 12, 2009
  8. ^ a b "Decatur man arrested for attempting to bomb Springfield federal building", SJR
  9. ^ Thomas, Pierre, and Ryan, Jason, "FBI Stings Are Chilling Evidence of Homegrown Terror; Officials Foil Two Plots to Blow Up Buildings in Texas and Illinois," ABC News, September 25, 2009, accessed December 18, 2009
  10. ^ http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-09/justice/illinois.bomb.plot_1_federal-courthouse-sting-operation-michael-finton?_s=PM:CRIME Archived 2012-10-08 at the Wayback Machine "Man sentenced to 28 years for plotting to bomb federal courthouse"], CNN News, May 9, 2011