In a statement issued on Wednesday, Aug. 28, officials said 28-year-old Rondell Henry of Germantown was indicted on federal charges of attempting interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle and attempting to provide material support to the ISIS terror group.
Henry moved to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago 11 years ago, The Associated Press reported, noting that he is now a naturalized citizen.
Court papers cited by Reuters say that in March, Henry “walked off his job in Germantown, Maryland, in the middle of the day, determined to walk down the extremist path.”
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers stated in the DOJ press release that “the defendant, allegedly inspired by ISIS and its violent ideology, stole a vehicle as part of his plan to kill and injure innocent pedestrians.”
Desire to Cause ‘Catastrophic Damage’
Henry is accused of stealing a U-Haul van in Alexandria, Va., in March, and driving it to Maryland, with the intention of using the vehicle as an improvised weapon.
“Recognizing that his older four-door sedan would not cause the catastrophic damage that he desired, the defendant drove around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area looking for a larger vehicle to steal,” Reuters reported, citing court documents.
Henry reportedly told investigators he planned to carry out an attack similar to one in France in 2016, authorities said. In that incident, the attacker drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said during an April 9 detention hearing that Henry intended to kill as many “disbelievers” as possible.
Prosecutors said Henry initially considered a March 27 attack at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, but instead drove to National Harbor when he couldn’t bypass airport security.
“I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving. I wasn’t going to stop,” said Henry, according to authorities cited by Reuters.
Prince George’s County Police reviewed surveillance footage and on March 27 found the stolen van. After seeing Henry jump over a security fence, police took him into custody.
Following his arrest, Henry remained in detention pending trial.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur stated in the release, “Law enforcement is working tirelessly to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks, whether they come from within or outside the United States.”
Fox News cited prosecutors as alleging that Henry was inspired by ISIS propaganda videos that showed gruesome scenes of combat and beheadings. Investigators found a cellphone he had thrown away and on it discovered images of armed ISIS terrorists, including of the man who killed 49 people and injured 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., three years ago.
Hur said in the statement: “We will continue to use every lawful tool at our disposal to find and prosecute those who want to do this country harm. This indictment is the next step in holding Rondell Henry accountable for his actions.”
FBI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Boone said, “All across the country, each and every day, the top priority of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces is to protect the American public by disrupting potential violent actors.”
Boone acknowledged various agencies engaged in the case, noting ongoing efforts aimed at “identifying and bringing to justice those individuals who provide material support to foreign terrorist organizations, engage in violent extremism, and threaten our national security.”
If convicted, Henry faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to ISIS, and 10 years in prison for interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.