The FBI says it has arrested a man who had discussed carrying out a terror plot during Fourth of July celebrations in Cleveland, Ohio.
The man, Demetrius Pitts, who had expressed allegiance to al-Qaida, was arrested Sunday after meeting with an undercover FBI agent whom he told that he planned to plant a bomb at a parade celebrating the American Independence Day, U.S. officials said.
“Pitts’ statements of violent intentions continue to cause concern during the investigation as he expressed a willingness to conduct a U.S.-based attack and also a desire in wanting to join a foreign terrorist organization,” Stephen Anthony, FBI special agent in charge, Cleveland Office, told a news conference Monday.
“His Facebook posts, quite frankly, were disturbing. They included verbiage that had words to the effect, ‘we as Muslim need to start trending like this everyday, we need to know how to shoot guns, throw hand grenades, hand to hand combat’,” he added.
During the final meeting with an undercover agent Sunday, officials said Pitts expressed his desire to participate in a terror attack on the Fourth of July holiday in Cleveland, as well as his desire to kill military personnel, their families, and federal and local agents.
“Pitts has been charged in federal court with one count with attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization — and in this case it’s al-Qaida. The statutory maximum sentence for that charge is 20 years in prison,” Justin Herdman, United States Attorney for the North District of Ohio, said in a press briefing Monday.
Officias said Pitts, who is an American citizen and was radicalized in the United States, is expected to appear before a U.S. Magistrate later Monday.