A Maryland man whom authorities say sought to weaponize a stolen U-Haul truck with intent to commit mass murder in the name of the Islamic State at a D.C.-area tourist destination will remain in jail until his trial, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Randell Henry, 28, of Germantown made his first court appearance since his arrest last month. Mr. Henry was taken into custody at National Harbor, an entertainment and retail complex just outside of Washington in Prince George’s County.
Authorities say he was plotting to mow down as many people as possible at National Harbor with the stolen truck in an attack fueled by his hatred for “disbelievers”
“He wanted bloodshed. He wanted chaos. He wanted panic,” federal prosecutor Thomas Patrick Windom told the court.
Mr. Henry appeared in the Maryland federal court on the charge of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines. No terrorism-related charges have been lodged against Mr. Henry.
Mr. Windom said the lack of terrorism charges does not make Mr. Henry any less dangerous to the public, adding the investigation is still ongoing and those counts could be added later.
Michael CitaraManis, a defense attorney for Mr. Henry, asked the judge to be skeptical of the government’s claims, saying prosecutors cherry-picked facts to fit their terrorist narrative.
“At a minimum, approach with caution what the government is representing,” he said. “The government is controlling the narrative to make him look like the worst possible person, a terrorist.”
Mr. Windom countered there is ample evidence Mr. Henry was supportive of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. He said the defendant was inspired to launch an attack after spending two years watching Islamic State propaganda.
“For two years he mulled on his ideas. He absorbed the hate and he planned,” he told the court.
Despite Mr. CitaraManis’ assertions, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas DiGirolamo refused to free Mr. Henry on bond, ruling the defendant posed a danger to the public if released.
The government filed a motion Monday arguing for Mr. Henry to be detained as a pretrial flight risk and a danger to the community.
Mr. Henry stole a U-Haul from a parking garage in Alexandria, Virginia, according to court documents. Authorities say he intended to use that track to carry out a vehicle attack similar to the 2016 attack in Nice, France, that killed 86 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
After he stole the vehicle, Mr. Henry drove to Dulles International Airport in Virginia on March 27, according to court papers. After finding early morning crowds too sparse for a terror attack of the magnitude he sought, he turned his sights on National Harbor, prosecutors said.
Arriving about 10 a.m., he parked the U-Haul, walked around National Harbor. He broke into a boat to hide overnight. Prince George’s County Police found Mr. Henry the next morning, arresting him as he tried to hop a security fence.
If convicted on the charge of transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines, Mr. Henry could face up to 10 years in prison.