(Updates with judge’s comments in second paragraph.)
Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A Moroccan immigrant accused of attempting a suicide bombing at the U.S. Capitol was ordered held without bail at a hearing today in federal court in Virginia.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson in Alexandria, citing the “serious charges” against El Khalifi and his “immigration status,” said the suspect would be kept in jail pending future action by the court. Anderson didn’t set a date for the next hearing.
El Khalifi, 29, of Alexandria, who was caught up 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 an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint.
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 the affidavit by Steven Hersem, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The weapons, both of which were provided by the government, had been made inoperable by investigators, prosecutors said.
A Moroccan national, El Khalifi entered the U.S. in June 1999 on a tourist visa that expired later that year. He has lived in the U.S. illegally since then, according to the affidavit.
He is charged with attempted use a weapon of mass destruction and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The case is U.S. v. El Khalifi, 12-mj-00087, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).
--Editors: Fred Strasser, Andrew Dunn
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