updated 11/6/2007 4:49:17 PM ET 2007-11-06T21:49:17

A man was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison Tuesday for plotting to help a supposed al-Qaida operative blow up U.S. oil pipelines and refineries.

Michael C. Reynolds claimed he had been trying to root out terrorists on the Internet, but was convicted in July of providing material support to terrorists and other charges.

“Today’s sentencing constitutes a triumph of the rule of law over those who would use terror against this nation,” Acting U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson said in a statement.

David P. Cherundolo, a defense attorney assigned to Reynolds in August, said Tuesday that Reynolds is now representing himself. Reynolds, of Wilkes-Barre, has been jailed in Scranton since his December 2005 arrest and was awaiting transfer to a federal prison.

Reynolds, 49, was arrested after authorities said he tried to meet a purported al-Qaida contact about 25 miles from a motel in Pocatello, Idaho, where he had been staying. The contact was actually a judge from Conrad, Mont., who was working for the FBI.

Reynolds testified during his trial that he was working as a private citizen to uncover terrorist plots and that his Internet communications were meant to ensnare a person he thought was a terrorist.

Prosecutors said Reynolds wanted to work with al-Qaida to target the Williams natural gas refinery in Opal, Wyo.; the Transcontinental Pipeline, a natural-gas pipeline that runs from the Gulf Coast through Pennsylvania to New York and New Jersey; and a Standard Oil refinery in Perth Amboy, N.J., that no longer exists.

Prosecutors said Reynolds thought his plan would help end the war in Iraq because troops would have to be recalled to help guard the nation’s energy infrastructure. He also owed child support and may have been motivated by greed, they said.

At the meeting in Idaho, Reynolds expected to receive $40,000 to finance the plot.

Reynolds was convicted on two counts of providing material support to terrorists; soliciting a crime of violence; unlawful distribution of explosives; and unlawful possession of a hand grenade. He was acquitted of another count of unlawful possession of a hand grenade.

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