Bid to kill Biden, Harris: Varshith pleads guilty

Hyderabad, Washington: A 20-year old Indian-origin man in the United States, who rammed a truck into the White House barriers in May 2023 in an attempt to kill the US President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and “seize power”, pleaded guilty in a federal court on Monday.

Sai Varshith Kandula had attempted to ram a rented truck into the White House. According to a plea agreement, US District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich scheduled his sentencing for August 23.

Varshith, a permanent resident, stayed with his parents prior to the attack in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Authorities said that on May 22 2023, he bought a one-way ticket from Missouri’s St. Louis airport and flew to Washington’s Dulles airport. After arriving at 5.20 pm local time, he rented a truck from the airport at 6.30 pm and drove towards the White House. He stopped for food and fuel on the way.

Once reaching the White House, Varshith rammed the vehicle into the security barriers at 9.35 pm. While doing so, he almost ran over two pedestrians. The White House Secret Service said Varshith reversed the truck and rammed into the barriers again.

The second impact disabled the truck and smoke began emitting 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.

In the interrogation, Varshith said that he had been planning for the past six months, and according to the prosecutor’s memo, he said his goal was to “get to the White House, seize power, and be put in charge of the nation”, and “kill the President if that’s what I have to do and would hurt anyone that would stand in my way.”

Varshith wrote a speech which he wanted to deliver after he seized power, which read, “My fellow citizens of the United States… There shall be consequences if civil unrest happens. Any opposition will be met with the death penalty… We will rebuild this world, and put a new system in place once the objective has been achieved. Sieg hail”.(sic.)

Varshith’s lawyers said he had been seen by mental health specialists and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. After the completion of his sentence, his lawyers said could be deported back to India.

US Attorney Matthew Graves 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 the government by intimidation or coercion, the department of justice said.

Kandula planned the attack for several weeks. Before renting the truck and crashing it on White House grounds, he made several attempts to gain access to vehicles or armed security guards. In 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 to carry out his offence against the US Government, the plea agreement said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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