According to court papers released yesterday, the FBI promised to make “martyrdom payments” of $1000 a month to the parents of a Moroccan man who offered to blow himself up in a suicide bomb plot to destroy the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Amine El-Khalifi, 29, was arrested last February after a six month long FBI sting operation. At time of his arrest, he was living as an illegal immigrant in Alexandria, Virgina. Mr. El-Khalifi pleaded guilty in June, and will be sentenced on Friday in Federal Court. His main concern during discussions with undercover FBI agents was that his impoverished parents in Morocco would be provided for after his martyrdom. The accused believed it was his obligation under Islamic law to provide for his parents should he die in the bombing.
Before his arrest in the sting operation, the defendant traveled to a Capitol garage wearing what he thought was a functioning explosive-laden suicide vest, while carrying a pistol that had been rendered unable to fire. El-Khalifi planned to shoot his way past security and denote his vest in the Capitol Building.
Federal public defender Kenneth Troccoli wrote in court papers.,”Mr. El-Khalifi believed that one of his most important obligations was to care for his mother and father. Failing to do so would, again, meet with God’s disapproval. Without the promise of the ‘martyrdom payments’ to his parents, Mr. El-Khalifi would have had great difficulty completing the mission as he would have been shirking his responsibility to ensure their well-being.”
The defendant’s attorney is not claiming the client was entrapped by the FBI. He did, however, state he believed Mr.EL-Khalifi might have behaved differently had he not listened to the FBI’s instructions to maintain strict secrecy and instead tried to “validate his beliefs with outsiders, for example an Imam at his mosque or a family member.” Troccoli went on to say, “Mr. El-Khalifi bears no ill-will against the American people. He is relieved that his attempted crime was foiled and that no one was actually injured.”
For their part, federal prosecutors emphasized the defendant was a willing participant in the bomb plot, who was determined to destroy the seat of the United States Federal Government, while killing as many people as possible.. Prosecutors Michael Ben’Ary and Gordon Kromberg stated in court documents, “had the defendant not found (the undercover agents) in the fall of 2011, there is every reason to believe that he would have taken any opportunity he encountered in the future to commit mass murder.”
Mr. EL-Khalifi is facing a term of between 25 to 30 years in Federal Prison. The prosecution has demanded 30 years, while his attorney is asking for a sentence of 25 years. When asked if there were other cases of suspects being offered “martyrdom payments”, the FBI declined to comment.