Inspired by ISIS, man planned Nice-style attack in DC area

His name is Rondell Henry and he’s a computer engineer who walked off his job last month, stole a truck and began looking for places where he could recreate the Nice, France attack in the Washington, DC area. From the NY Times:

The man, Rondell Henry of Germantown, Md., was inspired by the terrorist group ISIS when he stole a U-Haul van from a parking garage in Alexandria, Va., on March 26, according to the United States attorney’s office in Maryland. He has been charged with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.

Prosecutors say Mr. Henry, a computer engineer, drove the van early on March 27 to Dulles International Airport, where he got out and tried, unsuccessfully, for more than two hours to find a way through security. Mr. Henry then got back in the U-Haul and drove to the National Harbor in Maryland, arriving around 10 a.m., they said.

According to prosecutors, Mr. Henry walked around looking for an ideal spot to mimic a 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, in which a truck barreled through a crowd of spectators, killing more than 80 people.

Charging documents in the case, which were filed Monday, make it clear this plot had a religious motive. Henry hates disbelievers:

Through investigation, law enforcement officers have learned the following information, much of it from the defendant himself. For two years, the defendant has harbored “hatred” (in his words) for “disbelievers” who do not practice the Muslim faith. Seeking out and watching videos of foreign terrorists beheading civilians and fighting overseas, the defendant considered these gruesome actions brave and he wanted to emulate them. The defendant, though, did not have any weapons training. He was a computer engineer by trade, and knew nothing of explosives or firearms. But he knew how to drive, and he also knew of the terrorist truck attack in Nice, France. So the defendant decided to use what was readily at his disposal and conduct a vehicular attack on a crowd of innocents.

The only reason we’re not talking about another Nice-style attack right now is that security at Dulles was too tight. Hopefully, whoever is in charge of security over there is going to get an award and maybe a raise for doing a good job. It seems Henry could have carried out his attack at National Harbor that morning but the crowd was thin at 10 am and he decided to wait until there was more people so he could create a higher body count:

The defendant then drove the U-Haul from Virginia to the National Harbor in Maryland, arriving around 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. He wanted to create “panic and
chaos,” the “same as what happened in France.” He had no escape plan, intending to die while killing others for his cause. In his own words, “I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving. I wasn’t going to stop.” But so early in the morning on a weekday, the defendant did not find the sizable crowd upon which he desired to inflict his radical conduct. He parked the U-Haul and walked around until he found what he considered an ideal spot for an attack, in a popular part of National Harbor. He even calculated how he may have to come off the road and onto the sidewalk in order to hit people. With the crowds still too thin, however, the defendant needed a place to hide until the time was right, so he broke into a boat and hid there overnight.

Fortunately, police were able to identify the stolen truck and were waiting to arrest Henry when he reappeared to carry out the attack. If he had arrived later in the day when there were more people around this might have ended very differently. The WSJ reports Henry is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

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David Strom 6:01 AM on June 06, 2023