Falls Church Mosque Praises Would-Be Bomber's Arrest

Suspect reportedly prayed at Dar Al-Hijrah before arrest

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012  |  Updated 12:16 PM EDT
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Falls Church Mosque Praises Terror Arrest

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A Falls Church mosque where a would-be terrorist allegedly prayed for the success of his mission has issued a statement praising the man's arrest.

Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center issued a statement Sunday expressing their relief at the sting operation that led to the arrest of Amine El Khalifi, and thanked local law enforcement officials for ensuring that the mosque was not targeted for retaliatory crimes.

"We are all relieved that the community was not at risk at any time from the planned attack," the statement read. 

Khalifi was arrested Friday while en route to the U.S. Capitol, the target of his planned suicide attack. Earlier in the day, authorities said that Khalifi had prayed at the mosque for the success of the attack.

Khalifi had been in contact with two FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda operatives for more than two months while plotting his mission. Authorities say that Khalifi posed no real threat to the public at any time.

"Due to the close working relationship the mosque has established with elected officials and law enforcement, representatives from the FBI field office called the mosque leadership prior to their press conference to notify them that the man in custody was 'not a regular at any mosque including Dar Al-Hijrah' and that there was 'no connection between the man in custody and Dar Al-Hijrah,'" the mosque's statement read.

Dar Al-Hijrah has attracted scrutiny and controversy recently, mostly due to the fact that anti-American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki had served as the mosque's imam in 2001. Nidal Hasan, perpetrator of the 2009 Fort Hood massacre, also worshiped at the mosque briefly in 2001.

"The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic center remains engaged in supporting law-enforcement and will work to safeguard our community from any injustice," the statement closed. "Dar Al-Hijrah remains committed to the spirit of nonviolent engagement for social change and denounces terrorism in all of its forms."

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