US arrests suspect in Capitol suicide attack plot

Illegal Moroccan immigrant thought he was working with al-Qaida, not undercover FBI agents.

February 17, 2012 23:06
1 minute read.
US Capitol building in Washington D.C.

US Capitol building 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Jim Bourg)

WASHINGTON - An illegal immigrant from Morocco was arrested near the US Capitol on Friday after an undercover investigation into an alleged plot to carry out a suicide attack on the national landmark that houses Congress, US officials said.

"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," Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.

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The officials said the arrest capped a lengthy undercover operation in which the suspect had been closely monitored by law enforcement authorities. The suspect thought he was dealing with members of al-Qaida, but they were really undercover agents, one official said.

When arrested near the Capitol, the man was carrying a vest he thought was packed with explosives, but it was not dangerous, the official said.

Sergeant Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the US Capitol Police, said there was no danger to the public or members of Congress.

There have been a number of undercover operations in the Washington, DC, area in recent years in which suspects thought they were plotting to carry out terrorism attacks, but in reality were being monitored by FBI agents and posed no danger.

There were no details on the suspect's name, his age, when he came to the United States or the charges he will face.

The officials said the case is expected to be brought by the US Attorney's office in nearby Virginia.

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