The FBI has arrested a man who plotted to set off a bomb during downtown Cleveland’s Fourth of July parade.
Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, aka Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, aka Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, 48, of Maple Heights, Ohio, was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Pitts was arrested Sunday by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The arrest and charges were announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio, and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI’s Cleveland Division.
(Learn More. The FBI has arrested a Cleveland-area man in connection to a Fourth of July terror plot. Demetrius Pitts faces charges after he communicated with an undercover agent. See full news conference below. Courtesy of CBS News and YouTube. Posted on Jul 2, 2018.)
“Terrorists reject the ideals this nation was founded upon—the ideals we celebrate on July Fourth and which our law enforcement officers lay down their lives for every day,” said Attorney General Sessions.
“Each one of us owes a debt of gratitude to the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who work day and night to identify those who would do this nation harm, including those committed to supporting violence in the name of foreign terrorist organizations.”
“At the Department of Justice, we will continue to take every lawful step we can to disrupt terrorist plots and to protect our nation from foreign and domestic threats, including the dangerous threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism.”
“Together with our law enforcement partners on FBI Cleveland’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI disrupted plans to attack innocent citizens – including on July 4th, a day our citizens should be able to celebrate our freedom without fear of violence,” said Director Wray.
“This arrest shows the determination of the men and women of the FBI and our partner agencies to protect our communities from harm.”
“I extend my thanks not just to those who worked on this case, but to all those who safeguard our nation every day.”
“Protecting our citizens and our nation remains the Justice Department’s top priority,” U.S. Attorney Herdman said.
“This defendant plotted and scouted locations in downtown Cleveland for an attack on July 4th, when he knew it would be packed with people celebrating our nation’s birthday.
We will continue to do all we can to identify, arrest and prosecute those threats while working to keep our communities safe and secure.”
“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 on Independence Day, the very day we celebrate the freedoms we have in this country,” said Special Agent in Charge Anthony.
“The FBI commends the public for reporting individuals that espouse their radical beliefs and/or engage in behavior that threaten the lives of our military personnel and community.”
According to an affidavit filed in the case, between 2015 and 2017, Pitts expressed anti-American sentiments and expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans.
The defendant expressed a desire to meet with an al Qaeda “brother” and in June he was introduced to an FBI employee acting in an undercover capacity (UCE), who Pitts believed was such a “brother.”
Pitts, a U.S. citizen, and the UCE met on June 22, in Walton Hills, Ohio, where they discussed launching an attack for al Qaeda during the July 4th holiday.
Pitts said: “I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the 4th of July.”
He later stated: “What would hit them at their core? Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the 4th of July parade.”
Pitts and the UCE searched Google for a map of downtown Cleveland.
After learning the fireworks would be launched from Voinovich Park, Pitts said: “Oh there you go. Oh yeah.”
He was also pleased the park was near the U.S. Coast Guard station, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Celebrezze Federal Building.
The meeting concluded with Pitts indicating to the UCE that he would travel to downtown Cleveland soon to take photographs and videotape footage as part of surveillance efforts of Voinovich Park and the U.S. Coast Guard station.
He 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.
The UCE texted Pitts later on June 22 and where he indicated al Qaeda “brothers” would provide Pitts with a bus pass and cellular phone.
(See full news conference. The FBI arrested Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, accused of plotting a 4th of July terrorist attack in downtown Cleveland. Courtesy of Cleveland .com and YouTube. Posted on Jul 2, 2018.)