US authorities have arrested a controversial Florida pastor as he attempted to burn nearly 3,000 copies of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11.

Pastor Terry Jones, 61, was held on charges of unlawful conveyance of fuel and unlawful open-carry of firearms, after being stopped by police while driving in a pickup truck towing a large barbecue-style grill filled with Korans soaked in kerosene.

Jones planned to set 2,998 copies of the holy book on fire - one for every victim of the 9/11 terrorist attack - at a Tampa Bay park.

His associate pastor Marvin Sapp Jr., 44, was also arrested and faces additional charges for having no valid registration for the car trailer.

Jones and Sapp were booked into the Polk County jail, Sheriff Grady Judd said, adding the pastor had been warned his initiative was unlawful.

"We not only told him that he had a first amendment right to free speech," Judd said.

"We encouraged him to come to that park if he wanted to make any statements that he wanted. But he was not going to come to Polk County and violate the law."

Jones, a pastor of a small evangelical Christian church, first rose to media prominence in 2010 when he planned to set alight a Koran on the anniversary of 9/11.

The burning was called off but his congregation eventually went ahead with the plan the next year.

In 2012 Jones infamously promoted an anti-Islamic movie entitled Innocence of Muslims, whose trailer sparked mass protests and deadly violence across the Middle East.

Military officials say Jones' stunts put American and Western troops in Muslim countries in danger, however the pastor has repeatedly ignored pleas to stop.