July 4 Terror Plot Thwarted in Cleveland – Suspect Pledged Allegiance to Al Qaeda, Wanted to “Target People Watching Fireworks”
A July 4th Islamic terror plot was thwarted in Cleveland by the FBI after a months-long investigation of a man who pledged his allegiance to Al Qaeda.
Demetrius Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq, wanted to target Americans watching fireworks and watching the 4th of July parade.
Via Fox News:
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said Demetrius Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq, was arrested at 10 a.m. Sunday by the joint terrorism task force. Authorities were initially notified about Pitts in 2017, when he lived in Cincinnati and allegedly made statements supporting Al Qaeda and advocating violence against U.S. military members.
“This case illustrated that law enforcement can not sit back and wait for Mr. Pitts to commit a violent act,” Anthony said.
Authorities said Pitts made Facebook posts with “disturbing” messages, saying “We as Muslims need to start training like this every day. We need to know how to shoot guns, throw grenades, hand to hand combat,” Anthony said during a news conference.
After moving to Cleveland, authorities said Pitts continued to express his “radical ideology.” During a meeting last week with an undercover FBI agent, Anthony said Pitts noted “their holiday is coming up.”
“What would hit them at their core? Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the 4th of July parade,” he said.
In the last week, Pitts then went downtown to conduct reconnaissance at Voinovich Bicentennial Park and the Coast Guard station, among other locations, according to officials. He also continued to voice hatred for the military, saying he wanted to “chop off heads and hands.”
U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said Pitts planned to use a van packed with explosives to take places such as St. John’s Cathedral “off the map.”
“He wanted to target people watching fireworks and watching the Fourth of July parade downtown,” he told reporters.
Demetrius Pitts [Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq] also targeted members of the military and their children according to officials:
Besides the alleged plan to attack on July 4, officials said Pitts wanted to also harm military members and families of service members. Herdman said Pitts discussed giving remote control cars packed with shrapnel to children of military members. When he was asked by the undercover FBI agent if he was worried about injuring children, Pitts said, “I don’t care and I have no regrets,” according to Herdman.