Amine El Khalifi, a 29-year-old resident of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty today in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia in connection with his efforts to carry out a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. Capitol Building in February 2012 as part of what he intended to be a terrorist operation.
The guilty plea was announced by Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office.
At a hearing today before U.S. District Court Judge James C. Cacheris, El Khalifi pleaded guilty to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction (specifically, a destructive device consisting of an improvised explosive device) against U.S. property, namely the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. As part of the plea agreement, the United States and El Khalifi agree that a sentence within a range of 25 years to 30 years incarceration is the appropriate disposition of this case. Sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 14, 2012.
El Khalifi, an illegal immigrant from Morocco, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint on Feb. 17, 2012. His arrest 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 explosives and firearm that he allegedly sought and attempted to use had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public.
“Amine El Khalifi sought to bring down the U.S. Capitol and kill as many people as possible,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “He admitted today that he picked the targets, weapons, and means of the suicide attack while working with someone he believed was an Al Qaeda operative.”
“Amine El-Khalifi today admitted that he attempted to carry out a suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of what he believed would be a terrorist operation,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “I thank all those responsible for ensuring that El Khalifi’s violent plans never came to fruition.”
“The FBI’s top priority is stopping terrorism, and we remain vigilant against those who attempt to commit violence against the United States,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Today’s plea is the result of the hard work of dedicated Special Agents, analysts and prosecutors as well as officers from our partner law enforcement agencies that make up the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
According to the statement of facts and other court documents filed in the case, in January 2011, a confidential human source reported to the FBI that El Khalifi met with other individuals at a residence in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 11, 2011. During this meeting, one individual produced what appeared to be an AK-47, two revolvers and ammunition. El Khalifi allegedly expressed agreement with a statement by this individual that the “war on terrorism” was a “war on Muslims” and said that the group needed to be ready for war.
The full report can be found on the DOJ site