The United States Justice Department said on Monday it had arrested a Maryland man who allegedly plotted to drive a stolen U-Haul truck into pedestrians on the sidewalks of a busy shopping and entertainment complex along the Potomac River, in a foiled plan that was inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland said it charged 28-year-old Rondell Henry of Germantown, Maryland with interstate commerce transportation of a stolen vehicle.
It added that the government has since petitioned a federal court to detain him pending trial after learning more about his motives.
“I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving. I wasn’t going to stop,” the government quotes Henry as saying in its motion to the court seeking detention pending trial.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in the US District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland, before US Magistrate Judge Thomas M DiGirolamo.
In its criminal complaint, the government said on March 26, the Alexandria Police Department in Virginia received a report about a leased U-Haul that was stolen from a nearby mall.
The driver who rented the truck initially reported seeing a man in a blue BMW follow the U-Haul off Interstate 395 and park in a space near the U-Haul at the mall.
When police arrived at the mall, they found the BMW still parked there and discovered it was registered to Henry.
A day later, the stolen U-Haul was found in National Harbor, a bustling development along the Potomac in Maryland across from Alexandria, Virginia, that features bars and restaurants, shops, a Ferris wheel, a luxury hotel and residential apartments.
Video surveillance showed Henry parking and getting out of the truck. He was arrested the next day.
Prosecutors say Henry has harbored hatred towards non-practicing Muslims and has watched multiple foreign violence videos.
Specifically, they said he was inspired by an attack in Nice, France in 2016 in which a man drove a truck at high speed into crowds, killing 86 people.
Reuters news agency