Amine Mohamed El-Khalifi, a 29-year-old resident of Virginia, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for planning a suicide-bomb attack on the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria, Virginia, said.
U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris, who handed down the sentence, also ordered that El-Khalifi’s prison term be followed by 10 years of supervised release, according to a statement from the Office of U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride.
“Amine El-Khalifi sought to bring down the U.S. Capitol, one of our nation’s iconic symbols,” MacBride said in the statement. “Since 9/11, our mission has been to find terrorists intent on attacking the United States before they act.”
El-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, according to the statement.
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 prosecutors. The weapons, both of which were provided by the government, had been made inoperable by investigators.
El-Khalifi pleaded guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction on June 22, 2012. A Moroccan national, El-Khalifi entered the U.S. in June 1999 on a tourist visa that expired later that year, according to an affidavit filed in the case by Steven Hersem, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He has lived in the U.S. illegally since then, according to the affidavit.
The case is U.S. v. El Khalifi, 12-cr-00037, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).