Moroccan immigrant Amine El Khalifi pleaded guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol.
Khalifi, 29, entered the plea today before U.S. District Judge James Cacheris in Alexandria, Virginia, in exchange for a prison sentence of 25 years to 30 years, Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said. Prosecutors will seek a 30-year term at his sentencing hearing on Sept. 14, Carr said. The charge carries a possible sentence of imprisonment for life.
Khalifi, who was caught in an FBI sting operation, was arrested in a parking garage near the Capitol on Feb. 17 after meeting with an undercover agent posing as a member of an armed extremist group.
He was taken into custody as he began walking toward the Capitol carrying a MAC-10 automatic weapon and wearing a vest containing what he believed to be a functioning bomb, according to an affidavit filed in the case by Steven Hersem, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The weapons, both of which were provided by the government, had been made inoperable by investigators, prosecutors said.
A Moroccan national, El Khalifi entered the U.S. in June 1999 on a tourist visa that expired later that year. He has lived in the U.S. illegally since then, according to the affidavit.
The case U.S. v. El Khalifi, 12-mj-00087, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).