A 50-year-old Ohio man has pleaded guilty to charges he wanted to launch a terrorist attack in Cleveland as part of his support for the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, who also went by the name Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempting to support a foreign terrorist organization and making threats against the president and his family, according to a Justice Department news release.
Pitts will be sentenced on Feb. 11, 2020. He is facing 14 years in prison and supervised release afterward for the rest of his life.
Pitts was arrested in July 2018 after telling an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to launch an attack in downtown Cleveland.
“I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the Fourth of July,” he told the agent, according to the release.
“What would hit them at their core? … [H]ave a bomb blow up in the Fourth of July parade.”
Terrorist Attack Foiled: FBI in Cleveland arrested 48-year-old Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts for planning a terror attack on July 4th. The investigation began in Cincinnati. Details at Noon. @WCPO pic.twitter.com/yvM8jn6w74
— T.J. Parker (@TJParkerNews) July 2, 2018
Pitts had planned to scout Voinovich Park in Cleveland and the U.S. Coast Guard station on Lake Erie as possible sites for an attack, the release stated.
“And I’m gonna be downtown when the – when the thing go off. I’m gonna be somewhere cuz I wanna see it go off,” Pitts said, according to the release.
Pitts also talked about a bomb attack in Philadelphia and proposed filling a truck bomb with explosives.
When told there would be civilian casualties, according to the release, Pitts replied, “I don’t care,” said he had “no regrets,” and would be able to “go to sleep.”
A Justice Department affidavit filed in the case stated Pitts had a long record of incendiary language and threats, beginning in 2015 when he posted on Facebook, “The USA will be destroyed. Allahu Akbar.”
Pitts spoke often about the twin threats of violence and Islam.
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