February 18, 2012- Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan illegally in the United States, was arrested on Friday close to the U.S. Capitol. When arrested El Khalifi had a vest on he thought was armed with explosives supplied by al Qaeda. The Justice Department said he was charged with attempting to bomb Congress.
El Khalifi lives in Virginia and authorities said he intended to shoot people in and around the Capitol and blow up the bomb attached to his vest. He never made it to the Capitol, as Capitol Police and FBI agents arrested him just a few blocks from the Capitol in a parking garage.
The arrest came following a long undercover investigation by the FBI. Later on Friday, the accused appeared in court where he could face a term of life, if he is convicted as charged. Capitol Police and the FBI said at no time was there any threat to public safety. An undercover FBI agent had given El Khalifi guns and explosives that were inoperable.
Officials announced that over a year of monitoring took place before Friday’s arrest. In Washington D.C., a number of undercover operations have taken place since 9/11, with many of them similar to what took place on Friday. Suspects are lured into thinking they are plotting a terrorist attack, but the FBI was monitoring them the entire time.
Court records show El Khalifi first came to the U.S. with a visa in 1999 and overstayed but never applied for citizenship.