Agents from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force have arrested an individual accused of planning a terrorist attack on the Fourth of July in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
Known as Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts or more recently known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq after a conversion to Islam, was arrested early Sunday morning after meeting with an undercover officer in his attempts to conduct reconnaissance in downtown Cleveland in recent days. He planned to launch a surprise July 4th attack during the Independence Day parade.
FBI investigators began looking into and actively monitoring Pitts in 2017 while he was a resident of southern Ohio. Pitts billed himself as an Al-Qaeda supporter and posted a multitude of disturbing posts including several videos on social media promoting violence and encouraging acts of terrorism. He repeatedly stated he wanted to be part of the foreign terrorist organization and professed violent intentions against American armed forces members during the time he resided in the Cincinnati area, along with his desire to recruit others to k**l as many Americans as possible, especially military personnel and their families, as well as federal and local law enforcement agents.
According to FBI agent Stephen Anthony Pitts has been charged in a federal complaint with attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization. He is scheduled to appear in front of a U.S. Magistrate on Monday at 2:00 P.M. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Anthony also states Pitts wished to provide the children of military families with explosive, remote-controlled toy cars in hopes of harming their parent, quoting Pitts as saying – “I did tell myself that their holiday is coming up – the Fourth of July, Independence Day. What would hit them in the core? Blow up. Have a bomb blow up at the Fourth of July parade.”
“His Facebook posts, quite frankly, were disturbing,” Anthony told reporters during a press conference. ”They included verbiage that had words to the effect: ‘We, as Muslims, need to start training like this every day, we to know how to shoot g**s, throw hand grenades, hand-to-hand combat.’”
When Pitts moved to the Cleveland area in May, the FBI working in conjunction with local authorities continued to investigate Pitts’ professed desire for violence as he expressed it on social media and his capacity and intent to carry them out.