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Amine El Khalifi Of Alexandria,Va., Planned Suicide Attack On Capitol, FBI Says

11:36 PM, Feb 17, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Man Arrested Near Capitol In Apparent Terror Plot

Video: Man Arrested Near Capitol In Apparent Terror Plot

  • amine el khalifi
  • Man Arrested Near Capitol In Apparent Terror Plot
  • Man Arrested Near Capitol In Apparent Terror Plot
    

WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- A man was arrested near the Capitol Building on Friday after a lengthy investigation by the FBI, officials said. According to the Associated Press, the man had been under investigation for about a year. 

Suspect Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan citizen who has lived in the U.S. for more than 12 years, made an initial appearance in court and, if convicted, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, according to the Justice Department. 

 

CBS reports that a Capitol Hill source identified the suspect as Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan citizen who has lived in the United States for more than 12 years.

 

"On Friday, February 17, 2012, members of the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI arrested an individual in the area of the U.S. Capitol.  This arrest was the culmination of a lengthy and extensive operation during which the individual was closely and carefully monitored," officials said in a news release.

According to the Associated Press, a counterterrorism official says the FBI gave the man an inoperable gun and inert explosives. CNN reports that a Moroccan man was arrested shortly after 12:30 p.m. after he accepted a suicide vest from undercover officers.  

He believed he was going on a suicide mission with the Capitol as the target, the news agency reported. Authorities had been watching him as part of an undercover operation for awhile, possibly dating back to December. They believe he was acting alone, and had no connection to any terror group, CNN reported. 

"The U.S. Capitol Police was intimately involved in the investigation for the duration of the operation.  At no time was the public or Congressional community in any danger," officials said.

He allegedly went to a parking garage near the Capitol on Friday and received what he thought was a vest with explosives and a firearm, both of which had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement. He was arrested before leaving the garage.

"Today's case underscores the continuing threat we face from homegrown violent extremists," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco. "Thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort, El Khalifi's alleged plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed."

The suspect was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against government property.

CNN reports that during his initial court appearance, he wore blue pants and a green T-shirt with the words "Ready in Season" on the back. El Khalifi had short black hair, a trimmed, thin beard and tattoos on his inner arm. He stood straight, showed no emotion and did not speak.

The suspect, an immigrant from Morocco, is in the United States illegally, according to the Justice Department.

He had been closely monitored as part of a lengthy and extensive undercover operation, police said, adding that U.S. Capitol Police had been "intimately" involved in the investigation.

One law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the suspect entered the United States legally in June 1999 under a B2 visa. The visa expired later that same year and he has been in the United States illegally ever since, the official said.

That same official told CNN that law enforcement is searching two locations in Virginia in connection to the investigation -- one in Arlington, the other in Alexandria.

A second law enforcement official said El Khalifi is not connected to a terrorist organization and was acting alone.

El Khalifi thought he had met al Qaeda members who would assist him, but in fact he was dealing with undercover FBI agents, said the second source, who declined to say whether the FBI has audio or video recordings of the suspect talking to undercover agents about his plans.

A third source briefed on the matter said the suspect was identified through an existing criminal, not terrorism investigation. When asked about possible entrapment, the U.S. government source said the suspect went out on his own to buy component pieces for an improvised explosive device.

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