CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - An Ohio man who expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans has been indicted.
Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, 49, of Maple Heights, Ohio, was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, a terrorist organization.
Pitts has been in custody since July after allegedly planning a terrorist attack in Cleveland on Independence Day.
“Protecting our citizens and our nation remains the Justice Department’s top priority,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. "This defendant plotted and scouted locations in downtown Cleveland for an attack on the Fourth of July, when he knew it would be packed with people celebrating our nation’s birthday.”
According to an affidavit filed in the case Pitts expressed a desire to meet with an Al Qaeda “brother” and in June was introduced to an FBI employee acting undercover.
Pitts and the undercover employee met in Walton Hills, Ohio, where they discussed launching an attack during the July Fourth holiday.
"Pitts, a U.S. citizen living in Ohio, pledged his allegiance to Al Qaeda, a foreign terrorist organization, and was planning to conduct an attack in Cleveland,” FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hughes said.
“I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the Fourth of July.” Pitts told the undercover operative.”
Pitts had talked to the undercover employee about having a bomb blow up during the July Fourth Parade.
Pitts ended his meeting with the undercover employee indicating he would travel to downtown Cleveland soon to take photos and videotape of Voinovich Park and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Pitts also expressed a desire to take a tour of the U.S. Coast Guard station to gain as much information as he could about the layout of the facility.
On June 25, 2018 Pitts met with an FBI confidential human source (CHS) in Maple Heights, Ohio, who provided Pitts with a bus pass and a phone Pitts could use to communicate with the undercover employee.
The bus pass was provided to Pitts, as he requested, so he could travel to downtown Cleveland to conduct surveillance for the July Fourth attack.
On June 26, Pitts texted the undercover employee that he had finished the reconnaissance.
On June 27, Pitts and the undercover employee met in Maple Heights where they discussed the July Fourth bombing.
"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.
A later investigation of Pitts' phone found videos of targets in Cleveland. Potential targets included the federal building, the Coast Guard Station and St. John’s Cathedral.
On July 1, Pitts met with the undercover employee in Garfield Heights, Ohio, for Pitts to explain his plan for Philadelphia.
Pitts said he planned to travel there to conduct reconnaissance for a future attack in Philadelphia.
Pitts stated a truck bomb packed with explosives, such as the one used in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, would be the best way to cause maximum damage.
Pitts was told by the undercover employee that people would die and body parts would be flying around.
“I don’t care,” Pitts said.
Pitts told the undercover employee he would have “no regrets” and said, “I don’t give a (expletive).”
During the meeting with the undercover employee Pitts said he would be able to “go to sleep” after the bombing.