Federal authorities have charged a man they believe was plotting to ram a stolen truck into pedestrians in an ISIS-inspired attack at National Harbor.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland on Monday charged Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown, Maryland, by criminal complaint with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.
The government filed a motion arguing for Henry to be detained pending trial as a flight risk and a danger to the community.
The government’s detention memo alleges that Henry, who claimed to be inspired by the ISIS terrorist organization, stole a U-Haul van with the intention of using it as a weapon against pedestrians on sidewalks within the National Harbor complex along the Potomac River in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.
“We continue to gather evidence, as well as review evidence already obtained as part of this ongoing investigation,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said.
According to the criminal complaint and other court documents, on March 26, the Alexandria Police Department was contacted concerning a leased U-Haul vehicle that had been stolen from a parking garage at a mall in Alexandria, Virginia. The driver, who had rented the U-Haul vehicle had noticed a man driving a blue BMW following the U-Haul off Interstate 395 onto mall property. The driver then followed the U-Haul into the parking garage to park a few spaces away.
When police responded to the garage, they found the BMW near where the U-Haul had been stolen. A check of the BMW’s registration records revealed that the BMW was registered to Henry.
On March 27, the stolen U-Haul was located at National Harbor. Law enforcement reviewed video surveillance of the area that showed Henry parking and subsequently exiting the stolen U-Haul. Henry was arrested the following day.
According to the detention memo, for two years, Henry has harbored “hatred” for those who do not practice the Muslim faith. Allegedly inspired by videos he watched of foreign terrorists, Henry decided to conduct a vehicular attack, similar to the 2016 truck attack in Nice, France, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
After stealing the van, Henry drove around, arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia at approximately 5 a.m. on March 27. The government’s motion for detention alleges that Henry exited his U-Haul and entered the terminal, trying to find a way through security, allegedly to harm “disbelievers” in a way designed for maximum publicity. After more than two hours of failing to breach Dulles’s security perimeter, Henry allegedly returned to the U-Haul.
According to the motion for detention, Henry then drove the U-Haul from Virginia to National Harbor, arriving around 10 a.m. March 27. The motion for detention alleges that Henry parked the U-Haul and walked around a popular part of National Harbor. According to the motion for detention, Henry finally broke into a boat to hide overnight.
By the following morning, on March 28, police officers had discovered the location of the stolen U-Haul. When Henry leapt over the security fence from the boat dock, observant Prince George’s County Police officers arrested him.
Montgomery County Police reported March 27 that Henry had been missing since his co-workers saw him leaving his place of employment in Germantown around noon March 26. The police department then followed with an update the following day saying he was located “safe and unharmed” on the same day he was arrested by Prince George’s County Police.
Police said both they and family were “concerned for Henry’s physical and emotional welfare.”
If convicted, Henry faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.
A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo.
Story cited here.