by WorldTribune Staff, July 2, 2018
A U.S. citizen who had expressed support for Al Qaida in social media posts was arrested for planning to load a van with explosives and carry out a July 4 terrorist attack in downtown Cleveland, the FBI said.
Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq, was arrested on July 1.
The FBI said Pitts had met with an undercover agent and made statements similar to “what would hit them in their core? Blow up at the Fourth of July parade.”
Pitts, who moved from the Cincinnati area to Cleveland in May, faces a charge of attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization.
U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said that Pitts, during conversations with undercover agents, said he planned to use a van packed with explosives with the intention of targeting people watching fireworks and the downtown parade on July 4.
The FBI said Pitts had surveilled Cleveland landmarks, including the U.S. Coast Guard station and Voinovich Park.
The FBI said Pitts came on its radar in 2017 when he made comments on social media supporting Al Qaida and having violent intentions toward the U.S. armed forces.