Fla. Pastor Who Burned Quran Says He’s Willing To Die

April 5th, 2011 by Staff

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A controversial Gainesville pastor spoke out Monday after his burning of a Quran sparked deadly protests in Afghanistan. Pastor Terry Jones, of the Dove World Outreach Center, has received hundreds of death threats since he burned the holy book last month.
Over 20 were killed in Afghanistan, violence sparked by the burning of a single Quran at the tiny Gainesville church. General David Petraeus condemned the burning, hinting it could harm American troops.
“That action was hateful. It was intolerant,” Petraeus said.
But Jones says his beliefs are more important, but even at expense of American soldiers?
“I would have to say yes,” Jones told Good Morning America’s Matt Gutman. “Perhaps in the long run, uh, we have saved hundreds or thousands of lives.”
The death threats are streaming in.
“Right now we have a little over 300 threats,” Jones said. “Today, I believe 10 threats came in.”
Some of the threats are so specific that they name date, time and places where Jones would be killed. The FBI says the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has a $2.4 million bounty on his head.
But Jones and his assistant, Wayne Sapp, the man who actually lit the match to burn the Quran, said they’re not afraid.
“You are willing to die for this?” Gutman asked Jones.
“Uh, yes we are, very definitely. That is actually how important we feel that it is,” he said.
At the embattled church, everyone who enters is searched for weapons. Jones and his few remaining followers are always armed.
This is a church that’s increasingly isolated.
“It’s been said that parishioners have left this church. I wonder how many?” Gutman asked Jones.
“I would say, basically, all,” he said.
It’s a small group left, but increasingly difficult for Florida law enforcement to protect.
The FBI and local police says it has spent hundreds of thousands to secure the church. They say they aren’t thrilled, but are doing it to protect area residents.
Pastor Jones told Gutman they have no plans to burn additional Qurans.

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