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Chicago man arrested in alleged bomb plot


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CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- The FBI arrested a Chicago man Thursday on charges he plotted to blow up a federal courthouse with a truck bomb made from fertilizer, federal prosecutors said.

Gale Nettles, 66, was accused of targeting the Everett McKinley Dirksen Federal Building. Nettles faced an initial court appearance Thursday afternoon, prosecutors said. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the court building, located in downtown Chicago, was never in danger.

Prosecutors said Nettles purchased 500 pounds of what he was told was ammonium nitrate fertilizer -- the same material used to build the bomb used to destroy Oklahoma City's federal building in 1995 -- from an undercover FBI agent Wednesday.

He was arrested Thursday morning after selling 1,500 pounds of fertilizer to another undercover agent, who was posing as a member of a Middle Eastern terrorist organization Nettles hoped would join the plot, Fitzgerald said.

"The closest he came to a terrorist was meeting an undercover FBI agent," Fitzgerald said.

In Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, around 9 a.m., just after parents dropped their children off at day care at the Murrah Federal Building, a rental truck parked outside the building and loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer exploded, killing 168 people.

On June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed after his murder conviction for driving the bomb-laden truck.

In June of this year, a jury in a state trial convicted conspirator Terry Nichols on 161 counts of murder for his role in the bombing but could not reach the required unanimous decision on whether he should be sentenced to death. Nichols was convicted in an earlier federal trial and sentenced to life in prison.

CNN's Grace Ramirez contributed to this report.


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