Maryland man charged in van attack plot near capital

Maryland man charged with stealing a rental truck that he planned to use to kill pedestrians in Nice-style attack.

Elad Benari,

Police vehicles in Washington DC
Police vehicles in Washington DC
iStock

A Maryland man has been charged with stealing a rental truck that authorities say he wanted to use to kill pedestrians at National Harbor in Maryland, near Washington, DC, NBC News reported Monday.

Federal prosecutors accused 28-year-old Rondell Henry of Germantown, Maryland, of planning to carry out the attack. He was arrested on March 28 after surveillance video showed him parking and getting out of a U-Haul truck that was reported stolen two days earlier, investigators said.

"He said he wanted to carry out a Nice-style attack," a law enforcement official said, referring to the 2016 truck terror attack that killed 86 people in Nice, France. The Islamic State (ISIS) claimed that attack, and French authorities said it was an act of jihadist terrorism.

"I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving. I wasn't going to stop," Henry told the FBI, according to charging papers filed Monday.

Investigators said Henry, who is a US citizen, harbored hatred for people who were not Muslim and became inspired to commit jihad after watching ISIS propaganda videos.

Family members reported him missing March 26 after Henry, a computer engineer, failed to report to work as a contractor at a Maryland satellite services company. They told police they were concerned for his "physical and emotional welfare."

That same day, according to investigators, the U-Haul truck was stolen from a mall parking garage in Alexandria, Virginia. The driver reported seeing a car follow the truck and park a few spaces away.

After the truck was stolen, vehicle registration records showed the car was registered to Henry, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said that after Henry walked off the job, he drove around looking for a vehicle larger than his car to steal. After spotting the rental truck, he tracked it to its storage location. He stole it and drove to Dulles International Airport in Virginia, but decided security there was too tight.

Henry then drove to National Harbor, desiring to create "panic and chaos, the same as what happened in France" and was prepared to die in any attack, court documents say.

Deciding he would wait for a larger crowd, Henry broke into a boat where he hid overnight, the documents say.

By the following morning, Maryland police had found the U-Haul and were waiting for whoever stole it to return. They arrested Henry when he jumped over a security fence at the boat dock.

Since 2013, American prosecutors have charged hundreds of individuals with ISIS-related crimes.

In another case in Maryland, a federal grand jury in 2017 indicted a man on charges of attempting to murder an FBI agent and trying to provide support to ISIS.

In January, a man suspected of planning an attack on a synagogue in Ohio was indicted on charges of targeting a Jewish house of worship, as well as with attempting to provide material support to the ISIS, attempting to commit a hate crime and possessing firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Last November, a Manhattan court convicted a Bangladeshi immigrant of terrorism charges after setting off a pipe bomb in New York City's busiest subway station.




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