WASHINGTON – A 29-year-old Moroccan man was arrested Friday in an FBI sting operation near the U.S. Capitol while planning to detonate what police say he thought were live explosives.
Federal authorities arrested Amine El Khalifi of Alexandria, Va. Friday as he headed for the Capitol to launch a suicide attack.
According to sources with U.S. law enforcement, the FBI arrested El Khalifi as part of a planned operation after he took possession of what he thought were explosives packed into a suicide vest and an automatic firearm — which he planned to use in an attack.
El Khalifi also reportedly stated he wanted to use a gun and kill people “face-to-face.” He allegedly identified other potential targets for attack, including a synagogue, U.S. military personnel and a restaurant in D.C. that he believed was frequented by U.S. military officials.
U.S. law enforcement sources say at one point El Khalifi wanted to leave a bomb in his jacket behind a chair at the restaurant, and had conducted reconnaissance at the restaurant and even questioned a waiter about the restaurant’s busiest hours of service.
According to information obtained by WTOP, El Khalifi stated later that he no longer wanted to bomb the restaurant, but “wanted to blow himself up in the U.S. Capitol and would be happy killing 30 people.”
In preparation for the intended attack, U.S. intelligence sources say El Khalifi purchased materials to be used in an IED [Improvised Explosive Device], including cellular telephones, jackets, nails and glue. He also traveled to a quarry to participate in an IED test demonstration, where he dialed a cell phone number in an attempt to detonate a bomb placed in the quarry, according to the same document.
According to law enforcement sources, El Khalifi conducted surveillance on the Capitol and identified a method of entering the building he believed would not attract the attention of law enforcement. He also chose a date and time for his intended attack when he believed the building would be crowded.
El Khalifi also stated that he intended to use an automatic firearm to shoot the Capitol Police officer stationed at the door and any police officers who attempted to stop him from detonating the bomb inside of the building.