And here we thought hate-mongering Florida pastor Terry Jones had gotten Koran-burning out of his system when he finally set one alight in 2011, leading to major unrest in Afghanistan, where protesters stormed the United Nations compound and killed people. Hardly. On Wednesday, Sheriff's deputies in Mulberry, Florida, pulled over a truck Jones was riding in, which was towing a smoker grill stuffed with 2,998 copies of the Muslim holy book. The books, which Jones and an associate pastor at his church had planned to burn in a park north of Mulberry to mark the anniversary of 9/11, had been doused in kerosene. The sheriff's deputies arrested him on "felony charges of unlawful conveyance of fuel and open display of a firearm," the Tampa Tribune reports.
The number of books Jones had with him is significant: As the Los Angeles Times reports, Jones said in a news release that each book "represent[ed] one of the victims, every person who was murdered by Islam." That total "perhaps accidentally included the 19 hijackers."
Jones had applied for a permit to use the Loyce E. Harpe Park for the burning, but county officials turned him down. "My detectives had many conversations with Terry Jones prior to today," Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference, per the Orlando Sentinel. "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."
Judd said his deputies had watched Jones pour fuel on the books while en route to the park, adding, "He was potentially driving a bomb around if he had gotten into a crash."