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Indian national pleads guilty to attacking White House with truck; wanted Nazi Germany-like dictatorship

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Washington: An Indian national living in the United States as a permanent resident has pleaded guilty to attacking the White House with a rented truck with the intent to replace the democratically elected government with a dictatorship fuelled by the ideology of Nazi Germany, according to a US attorney.

According to the plea agreement, Sai Varshith Kandula (20), of St. Louis, Missouri, crashed a rented truck into the White House perimeter, and he was attempting to gain access to the White House to seize political power.

US District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich has scheduled his sentencing for August 23.

US Attorney Matthew Graves on Monday said Kandula intended to replace the democratically elected government with a dictatorship fuelled by the ideology of Nazi Germany and for himself to be put in charge of the United States.

Kandula admitted to investigators that he would have arranged for the killing of the US president and others if necessary to achieve his objective. His actions were calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, the Department of Justice said.

According to court documents, Kandula flew on a commercial flight from St. Louis, Missouri, to Washington DC in the afternoon of May 22, 2023, connecting through another airport on a one-way airline ticket. Kandula arrived at Dulles International Airport at about 5.20 pm and rented a truck at 6.30 pm.

He stopped for food and gas and then drove to Washington DC, where he crashed into the barriers protecting the White House and President’s Park at 9.35 pm at the intersection of H Street, Northwest, and 16th Street, Northwest.

Kandula drove onto the sidewalk, sending pedestrians running from the scene. After striking the barriers, the truck backed up in reverse, then lurched forward, striking the metal barriers a second time. The second impact disabled the truck which began smoking from the engine compartment and leaking fluids.

Kandula exited the vehicle and went to the back of the truck. From a backpack, he removed a flag and a three-by-five foot red-and-white banner with a Nazi Swastika in the centre and brandished it. US Park Police and the US Secret Service officers arrested Kandula at the scene and took him into custody.

His actions caused $4,322 in damage to the National Park Service and over $50,000 in damage to U-Haul International.

This amount included costs for repairing the metal bollard barriers to their original condition and ensuring structural soundness, oil and chemical removal, spill cleanup, and disposal of fluids from the crashed U-Haul, and the cost of the destroyed U-Haul truck, federal prosecutors said.

“Kandula planned the attack for several weeks. Prior to renting the truck and crashing it on White House grounds, he made several attempts to gain access to vehicles or armed security guards. For example, on April 22, 2023, Kandula requested 25 armed guards and an armoured convoy from a security company located in Virginia,” the press release said.

“On May 4, 2023, Kandula attempted to contact several other companies in an attempt to rent a large commercial tractor-trailer truck, a dump truck, or another large truck. Kandula was unsuccessful in arranging for security guards or a tractor-trailer truck or dump truck. Kandula had attempted to arrange for the services of these security guards and the use of large vehicles in order to carry out his offense against the US Government,” it said.

Published 14 May 2024, 03:40 IST

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