The man for whom Springfield’s federal court building was named in 1982 was surprised Thursday to learn that the structure was the target of an alleged attempted bombing. Paul Findley, an 11-term U.S. representative, was known for speaking out in favor of Muslims in the Middle East and criticizing America's close relationship with Israel.

The man for whom Springfield’s federal court building was named in 1982 was surprised Thursday to learn that the structure was the target of an alleged attempted bombing.


“I knew that I raised the hackles pretty well when I speak out, but I didn’t know I raised them that high,” said Paul Findley, 88, a Jacksonville resident who served 11 terms as a U.S. representative from central Illinois before being defeated in 1982.


Findley found it ironic that the man accused of plotting the attempted murder of federal employees at the Paul Findley Federal Building was linked to the Islamic religion.


Islamic terrorists were involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and Islamic nations have criticized the U.S. government for its support of Israel.


Findley, too, has been a vocal critic of Israel and what he considers an unfair American foreign-policy bias in favor of the Jewish nation. He wrote a 2001 book titled, “Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Images of Islam” and has been called anti-Semitic.


“I’m known favorably throughout the Muslim world,” said Findley, a Presbyterian. “I’ve always tried to speak out what I felt was best for the United States. I’ve never felt any particular faith has the only route to God’s blessing.”


It’s unknown what might have motivated Michael Finton — the Decatur man charged in the bombing plot. Also unknown is whether Finton knew about the leanings of Findley.


Findley said he had never heard of Finton, who Findley called a “maniac.”


“There is a small group of Muslims who are so outraged by U.S. foreign policy that they’re out to harm the United States,” Findley said.


He noted that he immediately spoke out against the terrorism of Sept. 11.


“Violence is always the wrong answer to any problem,” he said.


Findley added: “Through Israel, we have done some dreadful things to Muslims in the Middle East, and do it every day. But I’m a lone voice. Almost no elected official or former elected official speaks out in this way.”


Dean Olsen can be reached at (217) 788-1543 or dean.olsen@sj-r.com.