Solid police work by the US' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is being credited for thwarting a potential ISIS-styled attack that would have targeted pedestrians at National Harbor in Maryland — a Potomac River walkway lined with shops and restaurants, highly popular with tourists.
A Maryland man inspired by a 2016 terrorist attack in Nice, France, has been detained for allegedly plotting to drive a stolen truck into pedestrians at a busy shopping and entertainment complex alongside the Potomac River in hopes of creating “panic and chaos,” the US Justice Department said earlier this week.
The suspect, Rondell Henry, 28, was arrested after stealing a truck from a suburban Washington shopping mall last month and drove around looking for terror targets. Although no reports indicated that Henry was a Muslim, some cited him using hate speech against ‘apostates.’
But according to the court filing, prosecutors say Henry did not find a large enough crowd for his desired act and decided to wait until later.
In its criminal complaint, the government said that on March 26, the Alexandria Police Department in Virginia received a report about a leased U-Haul truck that was stolen from a nearby mall. Investigators said Henry harbored hatred and became inspired to commit terror attacks after watching ISIS propaganda videos.
Henry “walked off his job in Germantown, Maryland, in the middle of the day, determined to walk down the extremist path,” the government alleged in court papers.
Family members reported the computer engineer missing March 26 after he failed to report to work as a contractor at a Maryland satellite services company. They told police they were concerned for his "physical and emotional welfare." That same day, according to investigators, the U-Haul truck was stolen from a mall parking garage in Alexandria, Virginia.
The FBI said that after Henry was arrested, he admitted stealing the truck and said he wanted to use it to run over pedestrians at National Harbor.