Khalifi was arrested in a parking garage on Constitution Avenue NW a few blocks from the Capitol following a year-long investigation, officials said.
FBI agents and Arlington police subsequently raided Khalifi’s house, a red-brick rambler on Randolph Road in the Douglas Park neighborhood of Arlington near a wooded area with trails and a creek. Agents were seen going in and out of the house and and searching the back yard. Arlington police said they were assisting with a search warrant.
Frank Dynda, a retired patent attorney, told The Washington Post that he rented an apartment in Arlington to a Bulgarian woman who said she was married to Khalifi but that she “mysteriously disappeared” while living with him there. Dynda said Khalifi remained in the apartment afterward but did not pay rent and was not on the lease. He said he evicted Khalifi about a year ago.
“He was suspicious,” said Dynda. “He was getting mysterious packages labeled “book,” but I didn’t think there were books in them.”
Dynda said he called the police to report Khalifi, then took him to landlord-tenant court three months later and got him evicted.
“He and his friends threatened to beat the hell out of me,” Dynda said. “They said they would kick my ass.”
Before heading for the Capitol, Khalifi prayed Friday at the Dar al-Hijrah Mosque in Northern Virginia, but he was not a regular worshiper at the mosque, according to Johari Abdul-Malik, the prayer leader at Dar al-Hijrah.
The first official word of the arrest came in a cryptic news release from the Capitol Police that said an unidentified individual was arrested “in the area of the U.S. Capitol” but that “at no time was the public or congressional community in any danger.”
The statement said the arrest “was the culmination of a lengthy and extensive operation during which the individual was closely and carefully monitored.”
The statement provided no other details, but a U.S. official said a Moroccan man was picked up near the Labor Department on his way to the Capitol for what he thought would be a suicide attack. 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.
“We can confirm that there has been an arrest of a suspect in Washington, D.C., in connection with a terrorism investigation,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride in Virginia, where the investigation is centered.