Mike Levine, Fox News, February 17, 2012
Authorities arrested and charged Friday a Virginia man allegedly on his way to the U.S. Capitol for what he thought would be a suicide attack on one of the nation’s most symbolic landmarks.
The federal criminal complaint against the suspect identifies him as Amine El Khalifi, a 29-year-old Moroccan citizen who has been living in the United States illegally since 1999 after his visa expired. He was nabbed following a lengthy investigation by the FBI, initiated after he allegedly expressed interest in conducting an attack. Court documents say he came onto the radar screen in early December after he told an undercover agent about an earlier plan to bomb a northern Virginia building.
According to charging documents, he first entered the country that year on a tourist visa, which expired and was never renewed. Khalifi was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in northern Virginia with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The suspect allegedly weighed hitting various targets ranging from a military installation to synagogues to a Washington restaurant before settling on the Capitol.
The man thought undercover FBI agents assisting him in his plot were associates of Al Qaeda. He purchased bomb materials including jackets, nails and glue in preparation for an attack. He even conducted a test explosives demonstration in a quarry.
When he was arrested Friday in Washington, he was carrying with him a vest that he had been led to believe was packed with explosives, but the material inside was not actually dangerous, Fox News was told.
A short time earlier, Khalifi had been praying at a mosque in the Washington area. His destination was Capitol Hill.
A former landlord in Arlington said he believed El Khalifi was suspicious and called police 18 months ago.
Frank Dynda said when he told El Khalifi to leave, the suspect said he had a right to stay and threatened to beat up Dynda. Dynda said he thought El Khalifi was making bombs, but police told him to leave the man alone. Dynda had El Khalifi evicted in 2010.
“I reported to police I think he’s making bombs,” Dynda said. “I was ready to get my shotgun and run him out of the building, but that would have been a lot of trouble.”