FBI sting nets Moroccan on terror charges

2012-02-18 11:37

kalahari.com

  • Morocco
    From the strait of Gibraltar to the snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains and the windswept Sahara,... Now R300.00
    buy now

Washington - A 29-year-old Moroccan man who believed he was working with al-Qaeda was arrested Friday near the US Capitol as he was planning to detonate what he thought was a suicide vest that undercover operatives gave him, officials said.

Amine El Khalifi of Alexandria, Virginia, was taken into custody with a gun that didn't work and inert explosives, according to a counter-terrorism official.

He arrived near the Capitol in a van with the two undercover operatives, and walked toward the building, according to court papers. He was arrested before he left the parking garage.

El Khalifi made a brief appearance on Friday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria, where a judge set a bail hearing for Wednesday. After his arrest, FBI agents raided a red brick home in Arlington, Virginia. A police car blocked the entrance.

A criminal complaint charges him with knowingly and unlawfully attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property that is owned and used by the United States.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

El Khalifi, who was under constant surveillance, expressed interest in killing at least 30 people and considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington before he settled on the Capitol after canvassing that area a couple of times, the counter-terrorism official said.

During the investigation, El Khalifi went with undercover operatives in January to a quarry in West Virginia to practice detonating explosives, according to court documents.

He believed he was working with an al-Qaeda operative on the plot, according to an affidavit.

El Khalifi came to the US when he was 16 years old and is unemployed and not believed to be associated with al-Qaeda.

He had been under investigation for about a year and had overstayed his visitor visa, which expired in 1999, making him in the country illegally, according to court documents.

He told acquaintances in January 2011 that he agreed the "war on terrorism" was a "war on Muslims" and that they needed to be ready for war, the affidavit said.

Before settling on a plot to conduct a suicide bombing in the Capitol, El Khalifi considered blowing up an office building in Alexandria, where military officials worked and a restaurant in Washington to target military officials who gathered there. He even purchased supplies that included nails for the operation, according to the affidavit.

Later, when he settled on bombing the Capitol, El Khalifi asked his associates for more explosives that could be detonated by dialing a cellphone number.

In January, he unknowingly told authorities he wanted to know if an explosion would be large enough to destroy an entire building.

El Khalifi met with an undercover law enforcement officer, who gave him an automatic weapon that didn't work.

El Khalifi carried the firearm around the room, practiced pulling the trigger and looking at himself in the mirror.

Suspicious

A former landlord in Arlington said he believed El Khalifi was suspicious and called police a year and a half 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.

The former landlord said he thought El Khalifi was making bombs, but police told him to leave the man alone. Dynda had El Khalifi evicted in 2010.

El Khalifi had at least one man staying with him and claimed he was running a luggage business from the apartment, Dynda said, doubting that was true because he never saw any bags.

"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."

Two people briefed on the matter told The Associated Press the FBI has had him under surveillance around the clock for several weeks. They spoke on a condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.

Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Centre imam Johari Abdul-Malik, who along with other Muslim leaders meets regularly with the FBI, said he was contacted by an agency official and told that Khalifi was not someone he needed to worry about.

He said the official told him that Khalifi was "not a regular at your mosque or any mosque in the area."

He said he offered to supply the FBI with surveillance video of the mosque in Arlington in case it helped with their investigation but was told that was it not necessary.

Police are close to arresting one of El Khalifi's associates on charges unrelated to the terror conspiracy, the counter-terrorism official said.

The associate was said to also be a Moroccan, living here illegally. Police are investigating others El Khalifi associated with, but not because they believe the associates were part of a terror conspiracy, the official said.

- AP
Read more on:    morocco  |  us  |  security
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Cape Town 19:21 PM
Road name: N2 Outbound

ACCIDENT near the Airport runway

Stikland 18:48 PM
Road name: Strand Road Eastbound

STATIONARY TRUCK before La Belle Road

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

CV Administrator / Recruitment Assistant

Table View - Parklands
Your Move Personnel
R5 500 - R6 500 Per Month

Audit Tax Specialist

Western Cape
Future Africa Consulting & Training
R650 000 - R980 000 Per Year

Software Project Manager

Cape Town
DAV Professional Placement Group

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Deal of the Week!

Get bestselling John Green novels now just R99 each! Hurry and get yours while stocks last. Shop here.

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

It is the end of the month and there may be a strong focus on organising finances. You may have found a need to reconstruct or...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.