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article imageFBI arrests man suspected of planning suicide attack on Capitol

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 18, 2012 in World
Washington - The FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police arrested a Moroccan man Friday in Washington after a "lengthy" investigation into an alleged plot to carry out a suicide attack on the Capitol, the building that houses the U.S. Congress.
The Washington Post reports Capitol Police announced the arrest in a news release that said a man was picked up "in the area of the U.S. Capitol" but that "at no time was the public or congressional community in any danger." According to the news release, the arrest was "culmination of a lengthy and extensive operation during which the individual was closely monitored."
The statement gave no further details, but a U.S. official later said that a Moroccan man was arrested near the Labor Department while he was going to the Capitol for a suicide attack. CNN reports that Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd, said the man, Amine el-khalifi, 29, was arrested carrying a gun already rendered inoperable and a fake suicide vest given to him by undercover FBI agents. The man had thought the undercover FBI agents he was in contact with were members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
The Washington Post reports that Peter Carr, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride, in Virginia, said: “We can confirm that there has been an arrest of a suspect in Washington, D.C., in connection with a terrorism investigation. The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which the suspect was closely monitored by law enforcement...Additional information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”
According to Reuters, U.S. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd, said: "Explosives the suspect allegedly sought to use in connection with the plot had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public." Reuters said Sergeant Kimberly Schneider, spokeswoman of the U.S. Capitol Police, said there was never any danger to the public or members of the Congress.
The FBI also issued a similar statement and confirmed that the man had targeted the U.S. Capitol.
According to Associated Press, Khalifi is an illegal immigrant who lives in Alexandria Va., and has been under investigation for about a year after having overstayed his visitor visa for years. The Washington Post reports the man entered the United States with a family member and soon came to the attention of the FBI and the law enforcement. He was provided with an inoperable gun and a fake suicide vest, and finally arrested in a parking lot near the Labor Department a few blocks away from the Capitol.
While it is unclear how the man came to the attention of the law enforcement, Fox News reports the investigation began after the man expressed interest in conducting an attack.
Shortly before the man went on what he thought was a suicide mission, he prayed at a mosque in the Washington area, Fox reported.
According to The Washington Post, Khalifi changed his mind several times about his intended target and ultimately decided on the Capitol.
CNN reports officials say the man was not connected to al-Qaeda or to any terrorist group but was acting alone.
Federal agents have arrested at least 20 people in the past year on terrorism-related charges. In October 2010, Farouk Ahmed, a Pakistani American from Ashburn, Va., was arrested for an alleged plot to bomb Washington-area Metro stations. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in April 2011 to 23 years in prison.
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