POLITICOMan charged with plot to blow up Capitol
A 29-year-old Moroccan man who is alleged to have plotted a shooting spree and suicide bombing in an attempt to destroy the Capitol building was arrested in an FBI sting and charged Friday with attempting to use a “weapon of mass destruction.”
Amine El Khalifi, who lives in Alexandria, Va., entered the United States in 1999 on a tourist visa that expired later that year and remained in the country illegally since that time, according to the criminal complaint filed at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria. The FBI was tipped off last year that El Khalifi had called the “war on terrorism” a “war on Muslims.”
In January, El Khalifi changed his mind, saying he would prefer a suicide and martyrdom operation in which he would blow himself up in the Capitol, the feds charged.Working with an undercover law enforcement agent, whom he believed was associated with Al Qaeda, El Khalifi is alleged to have plotted the bombing of an unidentified building in Alexandra that houses U.S. military offices as well as a restaurant in Washington, D.C. In December, El Khalifi also expressed an interest in attacking a synagogue, the affidavit said.
“El Khalifi said that he would be happy killing 30 people,” Steven Hersem, a special agent with the FBI, said in the affidavit. But at a later date, El Khalifi said he wanted a “bigger bomb to do more damage,” requesting from individuals whom he believed to be his accomplices for explosives that could destroy the whole Capitol building.
And in January and February, El Khalifi observed the Capitol building on multiple occasions, planning an attack that was to be carried out Friday.
According to the affidavit, El Khalifi traveled in a van to a parking garage in the vicinity of the Capitol building on Friday together with at least one undercover law enforcement agent, and was given an automatic weapon and a vest. “Unbeknownst to El Khalifi, both the weapon and the bomb had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement,” Hersem said.
El Khalifi said “he intended to use the MAC-10 automatic weapon to shoot people before detonating the bomb.”