A nice little catch by the FBI on the Capitol Mall today:
The FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police arrested a Moroccan man Friday in downtown Washington after a lengthy investigation into an alleged plot to carry out a shooting spree and a suicide bombing at the Capitol.
Amine el-Khalifi, 29, was picked up while carrying an inoperable MAC-10 automatic weapon and a fake suicide vest provided to him by undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda associates, U.S. officials said. They said he entered the United States when he was 16 and was living as an illegal immigrant in Northern Virginia, having overstayed his visitor’s visa for years.
Khalifi was arrested in a parking garage on Constitution Avenue NW a few blocks from the Capitol following a year-long investigation, officials said.
They probably don’t get enough credit, but the FBI agents who pose “as al-Qaeda associates” pretty much have to come from within the community of interest, something we should all keep in mind next time one of these goons slips the net. It also makes you thoughtful, learning how many of these guys get entangled in these kinds of stings. Either the Islamic community in the US is doing good work identifying the crazies before they pop, or our national intelligence gathering systems are far more capable than most give them credit for. Or perhaps both. Only think on the fate of the poor Canadian bloke who ran into trouble when he tweeted to his team that they would “blow away” the competition. Something else to keep in mind when a news report or blog post gets us so het up that we write something we may later regret: Big brother is listening.
I found this bit jarring however:
Lisa Monaco, assistant attorney general for national security, said: “Today’s case underscores the continuing threat we face from homegrown violent extremists. Thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort … Khalifi’s alleged plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed.”
She was doing so well, and I understand that it’s probably hard to get off the script when you’ve made a pastime out of running around chasing phantom Crazed Lunatic War Veterans (With Guns!). But it takes a good deal more elasticity in the English language than is customarily anticipated to label as a “homegrown violent extremist” a Moroccan immigrant who had illegally overstayed his visa.
Sometimes you have to put the talking points down and focus on the facts at hand. You know: Follow them where they take you.