Amine El Khalifi, terrorism suspect, arrested near Capitol

The FBI and US Capitol police arrested a Moroccan man who was allegedly plotting a suicide attack today, said police and law-enforcement officials, according to CNN.

The 29-year-old suspect, Amine El Khalifi, was arrested near the US Capitol, where he was planning to detonate what he thought was a vest filled with explosives, given to him by undercover FBI officers, said the Associated Press.

Reuters reported that law enforcement officials rendered explosives "inoperable" and they posed no threat, according to Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd.

Appearing on CNN's The Situation Room this afternoon, reporter Brian Todd said El Khalifi had made a court appearance and faced charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against US government property. The charge can carry up to life in prison (and death in cases where victims are killed).

Todd also said FBI affidavits claim that during the investigation El Khalifi had handled an AK-47 assault rifle and alleged that El Khalifi said he wanted to kill people face-to-face, that he had carried out a successful test detonation of a bomb at a Virginia rock quarry using a mobile telephone to trigger the detonation and had discussed bomb making, purchased materials, selecting today as the date of his attack.

El Khalifi allegedly settled on an attack on the US Capitol Building after considering targets including a synagogue, a restaurant and a US military installation, according to CNN.

Sergeant Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the US Capitol Police, said, "At no time was the public or congressional community in any danger."

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Bloomberg reported that El Khalifi was a non-US citizen, remaining in this country illegally after his visa expired, according to a law enforcement official. He was from Alexandria, Virginia, according to the BBC.

The AP said El Khalifi had been interested in killing at least 30 people. According to CNN, the suspect is not affiliated with any terrorist organization. But El Khalifi believed that the FBI undercover agents he was working with were members of Al Qaeda, said the BBC.

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