A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Maryland man, 31, is now mentally competent to stand trial more than two years after he was charged with planning an attack inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the US.

The attack was to happen at a shopping and entertainment complex near Washington, D.C.

Last Friday, lawyers of Rondell Henry of Germantown, Maryland notified the court that he intends to pursue an insanity defense. In 2019, he was charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State group, reported CBS Baltimore.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Paula Xinis agreed to order a psychiatric examination of Henry. This was to determine whether he was insane around the time of his alleged offenses. The judge also ruled that he is mentally competent to stand trial. According to the judge, he can understand the charges against him and is capable of assisting in his defense.

In February 2020, Xinis had ruled that Henry was not competent to stand trial, and she repeatedly extended his court-ordered hospitalization. But a March 31 report on his medical condition found that doctors had restored his mental competence and said that he is “doing much better," the judge said.

The finding was not disputed by defense attorney Christian Lassiter, an assistant federal public defender. He said that he think "it corresponds directly with my own direct observations (of Henry)."

Henry said that he was "feeling good" when the judge asked him about his health. She asked him if he was "feeling well enough to make decisions for" himself. Henry, who is accused of stealing a van in Virginia and parking it at the National Harbor, said yes. Henry appears to be "quite keyed in and healthy, which is good," said the judge.

After cops found the stolen van and saw Henry jump over a security fence, they arrested him, according to ABC News. Authorities said that later, he told investigators that he planned to carry out an attack similar to the one in which a driver ran over and killed several people in Nice, France, in 2016. Henry intended to kill as many “disbelievers” as possible, said a federal prosecutors. He watched ISIS propaganda videos of foreign terrorists beheading civilians and fighting overseas, said prosecutors.

He has been kept in a federal medical facility in Butner, North Carolina, and the judge scheduled a June 27 status hearing for the case. The Baltimore Sun reported that the terrorism charge that Henry faces is punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail. He also faces a stolen vehicle charge. It carries a maximum of 10 years behind bars.

Representational image. Pixabay.

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