Maryland Man Planned to Run Down Pedestrians at National Harbor, U.S. Says

Federal prosecutors mentioned Monday that they had filed a legal cost in opposition to a 28-year-old man who they are saying deliberate to run down pedestrians on the National Harbor waterfront, a preferred vacationer website alongside the Potomac River close to Washington.

The man, Rondell Henry of Germantown, Md., was impressed by the terrorist group ISIS when he stole a U-Haul van from a parking storage in Alexandria, Va., on March 26, in accordance to the United States lawyer’s workplace in Maryland. He has been charged with interstate transportation of a stolen automobile.

Prosecutors say Mr. Henry, a pc engineer, drove the van early on March 27 to Dulles International Airport, the place he bought out and tried, unsuccessfully, for greater than two hours to discover a manner by means of safety. Mr. Henry then bought again within the U-Haul and drove to the National Harbor in Maryland, arriving round 10 a.m., they mentioned.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Henry walked round on the lookout for an excellent spot to mimic a 2016 Bastille Day assault in Nice, France, through which a truck barreled by means of a crowd of spectators, killing greater than 80 individuals.

Because the crowds at the National Harbor waterfront on March 27, a Wednesday, have been skinny, he delayed his plans, prosecutors mentioned. He broke into a ship and hid there in a single day, in accordance to courtroom paperwork.

The subsequent morning, law enforcement officials found the stolen U-Haul and arrested Mr. Henry after he leapt over a safety fence from the boat dock, in accordance to prosecutors. The authorities first recognized Mr. Henry by means of registration data left in his BMW, which was parked in Alexandria, close to the place the U-Haul was stolen, they mentioned.

Rondell HenryCreditMontgomery County Department of Police

Mr. Henry didn’t have an escape plan, as he didn’t plan to survive the assault, prosecutors mentioned.

“I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving,” he’s quoted as saying in a movement for detention filed on Monday by federal prosecutors. “I wasn’t going to stop.”

A detention listening to is scheduled for Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. in Federal District Court in Greenbelt, Md.

Thomas Mooney, a lawyer who’s representing Mr. Henry on state housebreaking and malicious destruction of property costs associated to the National Harbor episode, mentioned he would plead not responsible. A public defender representing Mr. Henry on the federal cost didn’t instantly return a name for touch upon Monday afternoon.

Mr. Henry was reported lacking after he left work round midday on March 26, and his household was involved about his “physical and emotional welfare,” in accordance to a public notice issued by the Montgomery County Police Department.

A spokeswoman for Hughes Network Systems, a broadband satellite company in Germantown, said Mr. Henry had previously been employed there as an independent contractor. The company declined to provide details about his position.

Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of George Washington University’s program on Extremism, said there is a long history of using vehicles as weapons of terror. In 2010, Al Qaeda promoted the use of cars to run over people in its online magazine, in an article titled “The Ultimate Mowing Machine.”

It was not until the rise of the Islamic State in 2014, however, that vehicular attacks became a common occurrence in Western countries. The most devastating was the 2016 attack on Bastille Day. It was followed by an attack on a Berlin Christmas market in 2016 as well as numerous smaller ISIS-inspired attacks in Europe and in North America.

An ISIS motto has become, “It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you do something,” Mr. Hughes said. And vehicles, of course, are easier to obtain than other weapons.

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