“I was just going to keep driving and driving and driving. I wasn’t going to stop.”
These were the haunting words told to Maryland authorities after they foiled a terrorist plot on Monday, said the Baltimore Sun.
According to reports, 28-year-old Rondell Henry was inspired by ISIS, planning to drive a stolen U-Haul truck into a crowd of pedestrians outside the Capitol. Henry’s plot involved targeting a convention, knowing there would be a large gathering of people with limited area to escape.
Police were able to detain Henry for driving the stolen truck across state lines. During the time he was in custody, police were able to question him, eventually discovering his deadly plan.
According to his statements to police, the man wanted to imitate the 2016 attacks in Nice, France, creating as much ‘panic and chaos’ as he could. During those attacks, a terrorist from the Islamic State drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into crowds of people celebrating the French holiday, Bastille Day. The death toll hit 86. The driver in that attack was shot and killed by police.
Police said that Henry walked out of his job on March 26thand stole a U-Haul from a parking lot, deciding that his smaller sedan “would not cause the catastrophic damage that he desired.”
But prosecutors said that wasn’t his initial idea. According to the report, Henry originally wanted to enact his terror plot at Dulles Airport, but after trying and failing to breach the airport’s security perimeter for two hours, he drove the truck to National Harbor, which is filled with restaurants, retail and hotels.
But due to the day of the week and the time of day, “the defendant did not find the sizable crowd upon which he desired to inflict his radical conduct,” said the prosecutor.
Henry then allegedly hid out in a boat overnight and was caught when he was seen jumping over a security fence.
Following Henry’s arrest, he was taken for psychiatric evaluation and then transferred into the custody of the FBI for further investigation.
The detention motion filed on behalf of the government alleges that Mr. Henry had hate for ‘disbelievers’ and reportedly wanted to emulate radical members of the Islamic State that he saw fighting overseas and on videos he had seen. Acquaintances of his were surprised by the allegations, calling Henry a “peaceful” man.
Police recovered Henry’s phone after he tried to discard it on the side of the highway. On it they found a picture of the ISIS flag as well as the photo of the Pulse nightclub shooter from the Orlando attacks in 2016.
A detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9th. The Sun reports that it is unclear whether or not prosecutors will charge Henry with planning the attack, but sources speculate that the transportation of a stolen vehicle over state lines will just act as a placeholder charge, securing the suspect’s indictment. Then it’s expected that prosecutors will present evidence before a grand jury.
Henry’s defense lawyer did not comment on the allegations against his client.