A 50-year-old Ohio man has pleaded guilty to charges he wanted to launch a terrorist attack in Cleveland as part of his support for the al-Qaeda terrorist network.
Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, who also went by the name Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempting to support a foreign terrorist organization and making threats against the president and his family, according to a Justice Department news release.
Pitts will be sentenced Feb. 11, 2020. He is facing 14 years in prison and supervised release afterward for the rest of his life.
Pitts was arrested in July 2018 after telling an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to launch an attack in downtown Cleveland.
“I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the Fourth of July,” he told the agent, according to the release.
“What would hit them at their core? … [H]ave a bomb blow up in the Fourth of July parade.”
Terrorist Attack Foiled: FBI in Cleveland arrested 48-year-old Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts for planning a terror attack on July 4th. The investigation began in Cincinnati. Details at Noon. @WCPO pic.twitter.com/yvM8jn6w74
— T.J. Parker (@TJParkerNews) July 2, 2018
Pitts had planned to scout Voinovich Park in Cleveland and the U.S. Coast Guard station on Lake Erie as possible sites for an attack, the release stated.
“And I’m gonna be downtown when the – when the thing go off. I’m gonna be somewhere cuz I wanna see it go off,” Pitts said, according to the release.
Pitts also talked about a bomb attack in Philadelphia and proposed filling a truck bomb with explosives.
When told there would be civilian casualties, according to the release, Pitts replied, “I don’t care,” said he had “no regrets,” and would be able to “go to sleep.”
A Justice Department affidavit filed in the case stated Pitts had a long record of incendiary language and threats, beginning in 2015 when he posted on Facebook, “The USA will be destroy. Allahu Akbar.”
Pitts spoke often about the twin threads of violence and Islam.
“We as Muslims need to start training like this everyday. We need to known how to shoot guns. Throw hand grenades hand to hand combat. How survey out in the woods. Look at the bed blue eyed devils. They teach their little dogs on how to shoot and hunt,” he told an undercover agent as he moved closer to developing his plan for an attack, according to the affidavit. “If you fear death. Then don’t say you love Islam.”
He also spoke about cutting off an enemy’s head and hands.
“I’m not-I’m not scared to do it. That’s how I would send Donald Trump back. Head, hand, hand that and I be like. I wouldn’t leave no type of message or nothing. It would be self-explanatory. It’d be a message,” Pitts said, according to the affidavit.
In another conversation, he expanded upon his theme that those opposed to Islam should die, the affidavit stated.
“We must kill all kafiruns (disbelievers) destroy, annihilate them. Look at our Muslim brothers and sisters being slaughtered each and every day by the kafiruns (disbelievers) armies and they boast about it. Everywhere we go at we get treated wrong. It’s time that we change this. They kill one of us we kill ten thousand of them. They kill two of us, we kill they whole city. Forget all this pity pack love stuff,” he said.
“We fight our enemies. We destroy them and destroy those who try to oppose, that are Muslims who want to help the kafirs (infidels). You make an example out of them. You kill them and the best way example is three H’s. Three H’s. Head, hand, hand. Decapitate, send it. Make your message be heard,” he said, according to the affidavit.
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