Feds Watched Would-Be DC Bomber for a Year

Details emerge in case of Amine El Khalifi
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2012 6:42 AM CST
This artist rendering shows Amine El Khalifi before US District Judge T. Rawles Jones Jr. in federal court in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Feb. 17, 2012.   (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
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(Newser) – The FBI is keeping quiet about the 29-year-old Moroccan-born man who tried to bomb Washington on Friday, but details about Amine El Khalifi and his plan are beginning to seep out, reports the AP. The FBI believes El Khalifi was acting alone and was not affiliated with al-Qaeda. He came to the United States when he was 16 as a tourist visiting Orlando with his parents, says the Orlando Sentinel, but overstayed his visa, eventually moving to northern Virginia. In 2010, a former landlord called the police on him, saying El Khalifi stopped paying his rent and threatened to assault him. "He was going to harm me, and I think I'm very lucky to be alive today," said the landlord.

But El Khalifi only came to the FBI's attention after an anonymous tip from Arlington, Va., in January 2011. In December, El Khalifi traveled to Baltimore, where he told an undercover officer and an informant that he wanted to blow up a building in Alexandria that contained military offices and "use a gun and kill people face to face." Over the next two months, El Khalifi's plans kept evolving, sometimes involving a remote-detonated bomb, other times a suicide bomb. He even detonated a practice bomb in a quarry. El Khalifi has a bond hearing set for Wednesday, and could face life in prison if convicted.

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