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In Sting, Feds Arrest Man Allegedly Plotting Suicide Bombing In Washington

Multiple news outlets are reporting that federal authorities have arrested a man who police say thought he was about to undertake a suicide bombing attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Fox News, which broke the story, reports the man was arrested in Washington on Friday, after a lengthy investigation by the FBI. At the time the man was wearing a vest he thought was packed with explosives but was really provided by FBI agents he thought were al-Qaida associates.

Fox News reports:

"A short time earlier, he had been praying at a mosque in the Washington area. His destination was Capitol Hill.

"The public was never in danger, as he had been under constant surveillance for some time.

"An arrest usually indicates charges have been filed in some form, but it's unclear when or how charges would have been filed in this case. It's also unclear if the suspect will be appearing in court Friday. In similar past cases, suspects have made their initial court appearance within hours of their arrest."

NBC News Washington reports that law enforcement officials said the man was in his early 30s and from Morocco.

The Washington Post confirmed the story with U.S. Capitol Police, who said the man was arrested in the vicinity of the U.S. Capitol.

Update at 3:38 p.m. ET. A Little More On The Suspect:

The AP reports that the suspect is Amine El Khalifi of Alexandria, Va. The wire service adds that El Khalifi is not believed to be associated with al-Qaida and before he settled on the Capitol, he "considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington..."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.