WASHINGTON: Undercover FBI agents arrested a Moroccan, believed to be working with the al-Qaeda, as he headed towards the Capitol Hill to carry out a suicide bombing at the heart of American government, US officials said.
The 29-year-old man, identified as Amine El Khalifi, was nabbed on Thursday in the lower level car parking of the US legislature only a few hundred metres from the Capitol Hill by agents posing as al-Qaeda operatives.
Unknown to Khalifi, the explosives vest and the sub-machine guns he was carrying were fakes, supplied to him by FBI agents during a sting operation, and which police later said never posed a danger. Khalifi was produced before a federal court hours after his arrest.
Media reports said that long before the Moroccan approach the Capitol Hill, federal agent drove in to clear the car park of all vehicles and took up vantage positions to arrest him red-handed.
The Moroccan had been under surveillance for months and was said to be mulling a range of targets including unnamed military bases, synagogues and a local restaurant, a haunt of Pentagon top brass, before settling for Capitol Hill as his prime target.
The new case is one of numerous attempts in the US last year where alleged ‘a lone wolf’ operative planned attack.
The Department of Justice said the arrest of Khalifi was the culmination of an “undercover operation during which he was closely monitored by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF)”.
“The complaint filed today alleges that Amine El Khalifi sought to blow himself up in the US Capitol Building. El Khalifi allegedly believed he was working with al-Qaeda and devised the plot, the targets and the methods on his own,” said US Attorney Mr Neil MacBride. PTI