GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) — Rondell Henry, the Germantown, Maryland man who investigators say stole a UHaul to be used as a weapon in an ISIS-inspired terror attack at National Harbor, will not be released from jail as he awaits trial.
Henry made an appearance Tuesday during his detention hearing.
He is a naturalized U.S. citizen and arrived from Trinidad & Tobago ten years ago. Henry has a degree in cyber security from University of Maryland University College.
Prosecutors say, in the days leading up to his arrest for stealing the truck, he told his landlord he was breaking his lease and walked off his job in the middle of his shift.
The government filed a motion Monday arguing for Henry to be detained pending trial as a flight risk and a danger to the community. They allege that Henry, who claimed to be inspired by the ISIS terrorist organization, stole a U-Haul van with the intention of using it as a weapon against pedestrians on sidewalks at National Harbor.
“Based on our investigation so far, this defendant appears to have formed a plot to harm large numbers of innocent people,” U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said. “He had taken concrete steps to execute that plan.”
According to the criminal complain and other court documents, the Alexandria Police Department was contacted about a leased U-Haul vehicle that had been stolen from a parking garage at the mall in Alexandria, Virginia.
The driver, who had rented the U-Haul, noticed a man driving a blue BMW follow the U-Haul off I-395 and onto mall property, then follow the U-Haul into the parking garage and park a few spaces away.
“This case emphasized our greatest threat right now, homegrown violence extremists,” FBI Acting Special Agent Jennifer Moore said. “Those individuals who radicalize independently and alone in their own home with little to no warning.”
When police responded to the garage, they found the BMW near where the U-Haul had been stolen. The BMW was registered to Rondell Henry.
According to the detention memo, for two years, Henry has harbored “hatred” for those who don’t practice the Muslim faith. Allegedly inspired by videos he watched of foreign terrorists, Henry decided to conduct a vehicular attack, similar to the 2016 truck attack in Nice, France, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
After he stole the van, Henry drove around, arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia at around 5 a.m. on March 27.
The government claims Henry left the U-Haul and entered the terminal to try to find his way through security, allegedly to harm “disbelievers” in a way designed for “maximum publicity,”
After he tried to breach Dulles’ security perimeter for more than two hours, Henry allegedly returned to the U-Haul.
Henry then allegedly drove the U-Haul from Virginia to the National Harbor in Maryland, arriving at around 10 a.m. He then allegedly parked the U-Haul and walked around a popular part of National Harbor.
The motion then alleges Henry finally broke into a boat to hide overnight.
Police found the U-Haul by the following morning. When Henry leaped over the security fence from the boat dock, Prince George’s County Police officers arrested him.
When police arrested Henry, they quickly realized this case was much more than just a stolen vehicle.
“It’s going beyond what is apparent and asking if there is more going on here than we’re aware of,” said Hank Stawinski, Prince George’s County Police Chief.
If convicted, Henry faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle.