Reporting from Washington — An immigrant from Morocco armed with an automatic weapon and wearing what he thought was a suicide vest packed with explosives was arrested near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington by FBI agents who had been closely monitoring him in an undercover sting operation, officials announced Friday.
Amine El Khalifi, 29, who allegedly had overstayed his visa after first arriving in the U.S. when he was 16, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against government property. He faces a sentence of life in prison if convicted.
On Friday, he appeared briefly in federal court in nearby Alexandria, Va., where most of the investigation was handled, but he did not enter a plea to the charges that were read to him.
According to Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria, El Khalifi believed he was working for the Al Qaeda terror network when in fact it was FBI agents who had been closely monitoring him for over a year as part of the Washington field office’s joint terrorism task force.