Suspect plotted to park van with explosives in Cleveland for lar - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Suspect plotted to park van with explosives in Cleveland for large-scale attack on Fourth of July

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts (Source: FBI) Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts (Source: FBI)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Agents from the FBI have arrested an individual accused of planning a terrorist attack on the Fourth of July in downtown Cleveland.

According to FBI agent Stephen Anthony, Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq, was arrested Sunday morning after meeting with an undercover officer.

Investigators started monitoring Pitts in 2017 when he resided in southern Ohio. He posted several disturbing posts on social media promoting violence and encouraging acts of terrorism, supporting Al-Qaeda.

The FBI also alleges that Pitts wanted to provide children of military families with explosive, remote-controlled toy cars in hopes of harming their parents.

Agent Anthony says Pitts wrote on social media: "Blow up. Have a bomb. Blow up at the Fourth of July parade."

The FBI said Pitts spoke of the explosion rivaling the 1995 truck bomb at the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, in which 168 people died, including children. 

In May, the FBI says Pitts moved to Cleveland. He recently performed surveillance in Cleveland at sites that are typically populated on Independence Day, like Voinovich Park and near the U.S. Coast Guard station.

Pitts met with the undercover agent on Sunday, where he also discussed a separate attack in Philadelphia. He was then arrested and charged with attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization, according to Cleveland's FBI office.

He has a lengthy criminal background, including charges of felonious assault, domestic violence, and aggravated robbery.

There's no info yet on whether Pitts, 48, traveled outside America to meet with al Qaeda agents.

Pitts is scheduled to appear in federal court on Thursday, July 5.

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