Another Empty Suicide Vest

The name of the latest FBI-produced terrorist is Amine el-Khalifi. He is 29 and from Morocco. He was arrested today outside of the Labor Department in DC.

As is usual with most of FBI’s terrorist arrests of late, the FBI provided the suspect with the weapons he would have used to attack the target–in this case, the Capitol. As is usual, this appears to be an instance where the FBI found someone talking about violence–usually online–and then cultivated that violent desire over time.

So it seems like this is a now-familiar story.

I am rather amused that this particular FBI-written story includes an inert suicide vest.

He was carrying with him a vest that he believed was packed with explosives but that actually contained harmless material, officials said.

The man thought he was being assisted by members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, but they were really undercover FBI agents, officials said.


“The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which the suspect was closely monitored by law enforcement,” Carr said in a statement. “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. [my emphasis]

I find that interesting only as a matter of coincidence. After all, we just charged Majid Khan, in part of donning what appears to have been an inert suicide vest.

I don’t know why, but I find it curious we’re adopting the same tactics that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed allegedly used to test Khan.

Update: Given the other targets this dude considered, it sure seems like the FBI picked a scary target, just like they did for the Scary Iran Plot.

El Khalifi expressed interest in killing at least 30 people and considered targeting a building in Alexandria and a restaurant, synagogue and a place where military personnel gather in Washington before he settled on the Capitol after canvassing that area a couple of times, the counterterrorism official said.

Also note, they appear to be cracking down on a bunch of other Moroccans who are out of immigration status. I guess they couldn’t convince those guys to join a terror conspiracy, and instead of us hosting them in a federal prison for the rest of their lives, they’ll be deported.

Update: Alright, this doesn’t make sense:

The affidavit alleges that over the next month, El Khalifi traveled to the U.S. Capitol Building on multiple occasions to conduct surveillance, choosing the spot where he would be dropped off to enter the building for the martyrdom operation, the specific time for the attack and the method he would use to avoid attracting the attention of law enforcement. El Khalifi also asked Hussien to remotely detonate the bomb he would be wearing on the day of the attack if El Khalifi encountered problems with security officers, and to provide El Khalifi with a gun that he could use during the attack to shoot any officers who might attempt to stop him.

On February 17, 2012, El Khalifi allegedly traveled to a parking garage near the U.S. Capitol Building. El Khalifi took possession of a MAC-10 automatic weapon and put on a vest containing what he believed to be a functioning bomb. Unbeknownst to El Khalifi, both the weapon and the bomb had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement. El Khalifi walked alone from the vehicle toward the United States Capitol, where he intended to shoot people and detonate the bomb. El Khalifi was arrested and taken into custody before exiting the parking garage.

The FBI says his own plan was to be dropped off at the Capitol building.

But what happened instead is he did a Deep Throat in a parking garage to get his empty suicide vest.

So whose plan was he implementing, again? Also, they decided to operationalize him in December, after first being tipped off to him in January. Actually pretty quick work for them.

Update: Here’s the complaint. Note it doesn’t say whether or not these conversations were taped. Also, this dude believed he’d get in the Capitol w/a gun and suicide vest loaded down with nails.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

26 replies
  1. Arbusto says:

    A new fashion line, brought to a grateful Nation, by the FBI. “The Inert Suicide Vest”. Be the first with this bold fashion statement of your dedication to (insert cause). Order online now to help reduce the debt. The FBI designers have stock on any size from petite through xxx and in many patterns and colors.

  2. emptywheel says:

    @Arbusto: I was tempted to make a Santorum vest joke in the post, but am so bored by inert vests in general I didn’t have the heart to do so.

  3. Benjamin Franklin says:

    It would be interesting if someone could hypnotize the likes of Sirhan Sirhan along with these people to find a thread of commonality in their responses. Proves nothing….just saying.

  4. MadDog says:

    Considering that many of these FBI “Sting a Muslim for Jesus” ops have received national publicity, just how low does your IQ have to be to become a target?

  5. PeasantParty says:

    Oh! I understand now.

    Sheesh. Call me slow. This is the new US program for the mentally unstable. Since we can no longer fund institutions that can and will take care of people in need of psychological help, the FBI has stepped in. The jails, as they are being privatized can now deal with mental cases.

    I sincerely apologize to all. I did not know that the FBI had a different operating platform. ;-)

  6. MadDog says:

    Just a related note – on CBS Evening News just now, a former assistant Director of the FBI and CBS News consultant displayed a chart showing that plots like the El Khalifi sting began to spike upwards in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

    When asked why by Scott Pelley, the former assistant Director of the FBI and CBS News consultant said that he thought the rise of al-Awlaki was the likely explanation.

    So, just like the latest US government explanation for Abdulmutallab’s underwear bomb attempt, the US government continues to prep the ground for Attorney General Holder’s soon to be made public “We killed al-Awlaki because…” narrative.

  7. prostratedragon says:

    Gi’ doze boys a spray of Eau de Pathos to sweeten their way!

    (Sorry, this story has now given me a brainworm of Avery Burns singing “See My Vest.” I’m going to be somewhat unreliable for a day or so.)

  8. MadDog says:

    OT but of interest here obviously – via an ACLU press release:

    “Obama Administration Asks Supreme Court to Dismiss ACLU Challenge to Warrantless Wiretapping Law

    The government today asked the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court ruling that allowed the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge the constitutionality of a law that gives the government unprecedented authority to monitor international emails and phone calls by Americans.

    At issue is an appeals court ruling that allowed the ACLU’s case to move forward. It rebuffed Obama administration arguments that the case should be dismissed because the ACLU’s clients cannot prove their communications will be collected under the law, known as the FISA Amendments Act…”

    The US government’s Petition for Certiorari to the Supreme Court (42 page PDF)

  9. Quanto says:

    On the same note, I believe the FBI are acting as telemarketers, when they find someone that will buy whatever piece of crap their trying to peddle they’ve found their patsy.

  10. emptywheel says:

    @MadDog: Well, I think what happened was after the Nidal Hassan shootings, they decided they better take the thousands of people who had been talking to Awlaki seriously. And so they’ve pursued each in a sting.

    They still have to get through the folks who read Inspire. But I’m pretty sure the article saying they were losing an analytical tool w/Samir Khan’s death really meant they lost an easy way to find people to run in stings.

  11. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: I mentioned that former FBI assistant director and CBS News consultant was on CBS Evening News last night? His name is John Miller and now he has a piece up at CBS News. Here’s part of his “let’s blame al-Awlaki for everything” narrative:

    “…The FBI and intelligence officials say that while there was an average of four to six cases a year from Sept. 11, 2011 until 2008-10, when there was a sudden spike of a dozen cases. The spike continued until 2011, when there were five attempts.

    Intelligence analysts at U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies launched ambitious joint project to examine what was causing the spike after the failed attempt by the so-called “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdelmutallab, to blow up U.S. Air Flight 252 over Detroit.

    While the findings remain largely classified, the clear message that emerged from the study was that al Qaeda and its affiliates had identified a handful of messengers who seemed to connect and resonate with their messages of radicalization much better than al Qaeda leaders like Iman al-Zawahiri or even the late Osama bin Laden.

    Chief among them was Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who once associated with two of the 9/11 hijackers. Al-Awlaki, after his release from prison in Yemen, became a prolific poster of videos on YouTube…”

  12. pdaly says:


    That’s interesting.
    I remember John Miller describing how he used to meet as a reporter with FBI counter terrorism special agent John O’Neill in the months before 9/11. When Miller later joined the FBI I thought it was strange, but I figured he did so out of some wish to honor O’Neill’s death in the twin towers.

    But when did Miller leave the FBI? and why did he leave, I wonder?

    As far as timing of the El Khalifi arrest, I assume the FBI was told in no uncertain terms that Saturday was off limits for late breaking news actions, because the Infotainment World has been gearing up all week for the Whitney Houston final goodbye all day marathon.

  13. MadDog says:

    @pdaly: CBS Evening News had former FBI assistant director and CBS News consultant John Miller on again this evening laying it on thick with the al-Awlaki narrative saying (my best effort at transcription):

    “…al Qaeda’s chief propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki…”

    Again, there seems to be overwhelming evidence that the US government is deliberately deploying a narrative that al-Awlaki was responsible for all terrorism attempts against the US over the last few years.

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