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Monday, June 5, 2023

Truck crash near White House: How did an ABCD kid turn into a neo-Nazi assailant? – Times of India

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WASHINGTON: On the face of it, his resume appears typical of a nerdy Indian-American teen: a passion for data analytics that won him certification from Google and IBM; proficiency in coding languages like Python and Java; participating in the student council during high school to showcase his leadership skills; and making the boys tennis team during his sophomore and junior year at the Marquette Senior High School in St Louis, Missouri, from where he graduated in 2022.
But somewhere along this academic journey, Sai Varshith Kandula, 19, was smitten by Nazi literature and history and apparently wanted to bring down the traditional establishment in US. Flying out of St Louis on a one-way ticket to the nation’s capital, Kandula hired a large U-haul truck from a rental close to the airport, drove into town, and rammed security bollards at the perimeter of the White House on Monday night, with the intention, he later told authorities, of killing the President.
For someone with that intent, he was not armed, nor was the truck filled with any weapons or explosives. No one was injured in the attack, although President Biden was in the White House at the time off the incident.
Thwarted entry by the bollards, he got down from the truck was taken into custody by security personnel. Inside the truck was a Nazi flag that Kandula said he bought online because, he later told authorities, he admires the Nazis’ “great history” as well as their “authoritarian nature, eugenics, and their one world order.” He also regarded Adolf Hitler as a “strong leader,” according to court documents submitted by a Special Agent of the Secret Service who detained him and questioned him.
Authorities said Kandula’s plan, as per his own admission, was to “get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation.” According to a statement included with his arrest warrant, Kandula said he would “kill the President if that’s what I have to do and would hurt anyone that would stand in my way.”
Although the events pointed to an emotionally and mentally disturbed youth, authorities took the incident seriously enough to charge Kandula with threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict harm on a president, vice president or family member, as well as assault with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, trespassing and destruction of federal property. Documents submitted before a court showed he had been planning the attack for six months.
US authorities have long worried about potential terror attacks on the White House, which is relatively easily accessible to public. In fact, till around 1995, the road in front of the White House south entrance, Pennsylvania avenue, was open to traffic. It was stopped after the Oklahoma truck bombing and the security perimeter was moved some 50 meters away from the White House fence. As it turned out, the bollards on the perimeter was what stopped u-Haul truck.
Reporters descended on the Kandula home in Chesterfield, 20 miles west of St Louis, on a clean, well manicured street with row houses suggesting an upper class neighborhood. There was no word from, or about, his parents, both said to be professionals who were being questioned by authorities.
But a tabloid that reached Kandula’s classmate from school quoted him as saying “I feel like something … either has gone badly internally inside him or maybe between the family.”
“He was never open to talking. And anytime I tried, he, it was just only small talk – never really anything deep. I always thought he was like a quiet, shy kid,” the friend, Aniket Sharma, told the New York Post.

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