A man who the FBI says was plotting an attack on the U.S. Capitol was arrested near the building Friday afternoon, authorities say.
U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI say that the man was arrested in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol building in an FBI sting.
ABC7's Scott Thuman confirmed that the man has been identified as Amine el-Khalifi. He has listed residential records in Arlington and Alexandria.
Law enforcement sources said the suspect is a Moroccan citizen in his 20s who was in the United States illegally after he overstayed his visa.
The suspect believed that the undercover law enforcement authorities he was speaking to were associated with al-Qaida.
The suspect planned to carry out the attack on U.S. federal workers, the sources said.
"The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which the suspect was closely monitored by law enforcement," stated Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice. "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."
CNN is reporting that the suspect was arrested at about 12:30 p.m. outside the U.S. Capitol. The suspect, as part of the sting, thought he was wearing an explosive vest, according to reports.
The public nor any members of Congress were ever in danger, police say. Capitol Police say they worked closely with the FBI throughout the entire operation, during which the suspect was closely monitored.
Court documents show Khalifi came to the United States in 1999, on a one year visa.
In January 2011, he first met with an undercover agent and stated the "war on terror" was a "war on Muslims," court records show.
El Khalifi told undercover agents that he originally wanted to target a building in Alexandria that contained U.S. Military personal but later changed that plan because he found out the building had non-military civilians.
He then discussed killing U.S. generals and would research where they lived, according to court documents, that added he introduced the idea of targeting a restaurant in D.C. that military officials would frequent.
On January 15th, he detonated a similar explosive packed jacket in a quarry in West Virginia. On Valentine’s Day, El Khalifi met with two undercover agents, who supplied him with a MAC-10, which was inoperable, and then showed him the bomb jacket with component parts, court records state.
Detonation was going to be by cell phone. The MAC-10 was going to be used to shoot the U.S. Capitol security.
Walking by the Capital - the suspect's target - the Woodmansee family was noticeably surprised to hear of the arrest.
“It’s hard to form the words, it’s shocking words to hear, we're here with our children,” says Karen Woodmansee. “It’s something you never want to hear. I'm glad they got him.”
For those who work around the capitol, it’s a reminder that a terrorist attack could literally be around the next corner has frayed some nerves.
“I'm glad he was caught and lives were saved,” says Donald Smith. “It shows the laws and systems we have in place are working.”
Details are still emerging. Check back for updates.