Rondell Henry planned truck attack at National Harbor, prosecutors say

April 8, 2019

Federal authorities on Monday charged a Maryland man with plotting an Islamic state-inspired attack on crowds at National Harbor, a retail and entertainment complex just outside of Washington, D.C.

Rondell Henry, 28, Germantown, Maryland, was planning to drive a stolen U-Haul truck into pedestrians at the tourist destination in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Despite the terrorism claims, prosecutors only lodged a charge of interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle against Mr. Henry. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Authorities nabbed Mr. Henry on March 28 at National Harbor with the U-Haul he stole two days earlier from an Alexandria, Virginia, parking garage, according to court records.

Prosecutors said Mr. Henry wanted to use the truck to attack “disbelievers” in a way to generate maximum publicity.

On March 26, Mr. Henry stormed out of his job with the intent to “walk down the extremist path,” according to court documents. He stole the U-Haul, leaving his own BMW behind in the process, prosecutors said.

The next morning, he drove the van to Dulles International Airport, seeking a way to kill pedestrians. Prosecutors said Mr. Henry found the sparse, 5 a.m. crowds were not big enough for his scheme. He also became frustrated when he couldn’t breach the airport security area, and opted to scout National Harbor.

The attack was thwarted when alert Prince George’s County police officers arrested him for jumping over a security fence.

While at National Harbor, he wanted to create “panic and chaos,” akin to “what happened in France,” according to court documents.

The France reference is to a similar attack in Nice, France, when a man killed 86 people by driving a truck into acrowd on Bastille Day in 2106. A similar attack occurred in New York City in 2017, killing eight.

Justice Department officials said the attacks inspired Mr. Henry and he harbored “hatred for those who do not practice the Muslim faith.”

Mr. Henry is scheduled to appear in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Tuesday.