A Maryland man who allegedly pledged himself to ISIS and planned to run over pedestrians in the nation's capital was stopped before he could carry out the attack and has been charged with attempting to support a terrorist organization.
Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown, Maryland, claimed to be inspired by ISIS when he stole a U-Haul van in Alexandria, Virginia, on March 26 before driving it to Maryland the next day with the intent of using it as a weapon to hit pedestrians on sidewalks at the newly developed National Harbor complex on the Potomac River near Washington. A federal grand jury returned an indictment against him on Wednesday.
According to the detention memo from April 8, Henry harbored "hatred" for those not practicing the Muslim faith and had been inspired by the 2016 truck attack in Nice, France.
"The defendant, allegedly inspired by ISIS and its violent ideology, stole a vehicle as part of his plan to kill and injure innocent pedestrians. The National Security Division, working with our partners, remains committed to identifying and holding accountable those who would commit terrorist attacks on our soil," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice statement announcing the indictment.
The government alleges that after stealing the van, Henry drove to Dulles International Airport at 5 a.m. on March 27, parked the vehicle before entering the terminal, and then tried for two hours to find a possible way through security to harm "disbelievers" in a way designed for maximum publicity. But after failing to find a way to penetrate the airport's security perimeter, he drove the U-Haul to the National Harbor later that morning.
The stolen U-Haul was found by law enforcement March 28 parked at the National Harbor for the alleged planned attack. Police said they reviewed security camera footage of the area that showed Henry parking and exiting the vehicle.
Henry was subsequently arrested by Prince George's County Police before any attack could be attempted.
"All across the country, each and every day, the top priority of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) is to protect the American public by disrupting potential violent actors. Maryland JTTF, working in tandem with the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC), is dedicated to identifying and bringing to justice those individuals who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations, engage in violent extremism, and threaten our national security," said FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone.
Henry now faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support for ISIS and an additional 10 years for interstate transport of a stolen vehicle, according to the Department of Justice.
"Law enforcement is working tirelessly to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks, whether they come from within or outside the United States," said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. "We will continue to use every lawful tool at our disposal to find and prosecute those who want to do this country harm."