Fla. pastor arrested before he could burn Qurans



POLK COUNTY, Fla. - A controversial Gainesville pastor bonded out of jail Thursday after he was arrested for dousing a number of Qurans in a barbeque grill with kerosene and driving around Wednesday evening, authorities said.

Authorities said he was driving a potential bomb.

Cell phone video shows Terry Jones and his associate pastor being arrested at around 5 p.m. in Mulberry in Polk County.

The son of associate pastor Marvin Wayne Sapp shot the video.

Jones had tried to get a permit to burn Qurans in a large park in Mulberry. The Quran is the Muslim holy book.

The permit was denied. Jones said he was coming anyway.

The Sheriff's Office said he was welcome to come, but said he could not burn the Qurans.

"We told him clearly, if you violate the law, we will arrest you and put you in jail," Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County said.

Deputies spotted Jones in a McDonald's parking lot.

"Next thing he did was open up a drum that he carried behind his truck. Then he took kerosene and doused the Qurans in the parking lot of McDonald's. The manager came out and told him to leave," Judd said.

When he began to drive with the flammable materials, deputies pulled him over, and arrested him and Sapp for unlawful conveyance of fuel.

"We had the fire department come there immediately and do a vapor test and it showed it was flammable at that time while he pulled it down the road. He was potentially driving a bomb down the road had there been a crash," Judd said.

Jones drew worldwide attention on the ninth anniversary of Sept. 11 when he threatened to burn 200 copies of the Quran.

The pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville later backed off after pleas from world leaders.

Jones had said he was heading to a nearby park to burn 2,998 Qurans — one for every victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Sheriff's officials said that Jones was also charged with unlawful open-carry of a firearm, a misdemeanor, and that Sapp faces a charge of having no valid registration for the trailer.

Mulberry's mayor, along with area elected officials, a sheriff's deputy and several Polk County residents have talked about the need to express love and tolerance for all faiths on Sept. 11.

Jones is the pastor of a small evangelical Christian church. 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 protest happened after the 2011 Quran burning as hundreds of protesters stormed a U.N. 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.

Mulberry is a town of about 3,000 between Orlando and Tampa and has no connection to Jones' church, which recently moved out of its Gainesville building.

An Egyptian court convicted Jones, along with seven Egyptian Coptic Christians, in absentia, sentencing them to death on charges linked to the film. The ruling was seen as largely symbolic because Jones and the other defendants live outside of Egypt.

Just last week, a federal judge in Michigan issued a summary judgment in favor of Jones and his organization, Stand Up America Now, against the city of Dearborn for requiring Jones and his organization to sign a city-issued agreement in order to speak on public property in front of a Dearborn mosque in 2012.

Earlier Wednesday, about 75 people gathered In Mulberry for an interfaith prayer service to counter Jones' actions.

Mike Ghouse, who has organized a 9/11 prayer service in his home state of Texas for nine years, brought his event to Mulberry because of Jones' planned Quran burning. He initially had planned to hold the service in Texas but teamed with a group of Mulberry residents who had organized an anti-Jones Facebook page.

"Everyone has a right to believe what they believe," said Ghouse, adding that it was Jones' right as an American to express himself. Others said that while Jones was free to say or do whatever he wanted, the people of Mulberry didn't want the world to think that the residents condone or agree with Jones' views.

Polk County resident Butch Rahman said, "We don't buy what Jones is selling."