Officials on Monday report that an arrest has been made in a terror plot planned for downtown Cleveland during Independence Day celebrations.
Demetrius Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq, was arrested over the weekend.
The suspect involved has been “charged with attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization,” Al Qaeda.
ABC News is reporting that the plot “involved detonating a bomb” while revelers at local Fourth of July celebrations took part in local festivities.
U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman told Fox 8 in Cleveland that the suspect planned to use a van packed with explosives, with an intent to target people watching fireworks and the downtown parade.
— Alyson Bruner (@AlysonBruner) July 2, 2018
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony reports that the suspect had made statements supporting Al Qaeda back in 2017, and continued to make them on social media after moving to Cleveland.
“His Facebook posts were disturbing,” one official said.
Stepping up his threats, Pitts met with what would turn out to be an undercover agent and told them “what would hit them in their core? … Blow up at the Fourth of July parade.”
Following the meeting, he conducted reconnaissance on a Coast Guard station and local downtown park, officials stated.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 2, 2018
“He wanted us to be afraid to speak our minds and to gather together in public places,” an FBI official reported. “I ask this week that we all continue to gather, continue celebrating America … Continue to have our barbecues and see our fireworks.”
The New York Daily News reports that Pitts specifically sought to target military families.
NEW: Officials detail arrest of man who, in meeting with undercover agent, expressed allegiance to al-Qaida and “his desire to participate in a terror attack on July 4th” in Cleveland, Ohio, targeting military and law enforcement personnel. https://t.co/T5Ev3SpFva pic.twitter.com/WdKcAOUw3n
— ABC News (@ABC) July 2, 2018
It’s the second significant terrorism plot thwarted in Cleveland in the last six years.
In 2012, five self-proclaimed ‘Occupy’ anarchists attempted to blow up a bridge over the Cuyahoga River.
Four of the suspects, in that case, received sentences ranging from six to 11½ years in federal prison.
Thankfully, this terror plot was foiled, especially given that 4th of July is tomorrow. Millions of Americans will be out in public celebrating America on this special day. (RELATED: Six Things You Never Knew About the Fourth of July).