The FBI has yet again employed a counterterrorism tactic that has proven extremely useful over the past few years in disrupting terror plots aimed at the United States. Amine el Khalifi, an illegal alien of Moroccan decent, was arrested today while wearing a suicide vest which he intended to detonate inside the US Capitol building in Washington DC. The attack would have been devastating were it not for the interception of his plot by undercover FBI agents, who posed as al Qaeda operatives and provided him with a non-functioning explosive vest.
“The complaint filed today alleges that Amine El Khalifi sought to blow himself up in the U.S. Capitol Building,” US Attorney Neil MacBride said in a press release issued Department of Justice. “El Khalifi allegedly believed he was working with al Qaeda and devised the plot, the targets, and the methods on his own.”
El Khalifi “became known to the JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] because of his stated desire to carry out attacks in the US, specifically, the US Capitol building,” James McJunkin, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office said. “This arrest is the result of dedicated special agents, task force officers and intelligence analysts from the FBI and our partner law enforcement agencies that make up the JTTF.”
Officials have been tight-lipped as to how el Khalifi raised suspicions, but the DOJ press release said that a confidential human source reported el Khalifi’s intention to carry out an attack on US soil. It was during a meeting at an Alexandria, Va. home earlier this year that el Khalifi, along with other unidentified individuals, handled weapons and discussed his displeasure with the ‘war on terror’, which alarmed the confidential source who contacted law enforcement. It was after this report that the FBI began their investigation on el Khalifi.
He was then introduced by a man he knew as “Hussein” to another man named “Yusuf,” both of whom el Khalifi believed to be al Qaeda members, but who in fact were undercover law enforcement officers. During meetings with the undercover agents, el Khalifi discussed various targets, eventually settling on a suicide mission against the Capitol building. On Jan. 15, el Khalifi expressed his willingness and competency in carrying out an attack by remotely detonating an explosive in a West Virginia quarry, then selected Feb. 17 as the day his operation would take place. Over the next few weeks, el Khalifi staked out his target and decided on a point of entry into the Capitol, where he would conduct his attack. Throughout this time, el Khalifi was closely monitored by law enforcement.
Today after first after praying at the Dar al-Hirjah mosque in Northern Virginia, el Khalifi set out to execute his plan. Holding an inoperable MAC-10 automatic weapon and wearing what he believed to be a suicide vest, he walked alone from a parking garage toward the US Capitol. Before he could exit the garage, he was taken into custody. El Khalifi had his first court appearance today at 4:15, where he is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a property that is owned and used by the United States. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.