Man pleads guilty to plotting Fourth of July attack in Cleveland

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CLEVELAND– A man pleaded guilty to plotting a terrorist attack in Cleveland on the Fourth of July, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release on Tuesday.

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, 50, of Maple Heights, pleaded to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, threats against the President of the United States and threats against family members of the President of the United States. He will be sentenced on Feb. 11 and will likely receive 14 years in prison.

Pitts, who also went by Abdur Raheem Rafeeq and Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, wanted to show his support to Al Qaeda and recruit people to kill Americans, according to the affidavit.

Pitts discussed an attack on the Fourth of July when he met with an undercover agent posing as an Al Qaeda brother in Walton Hills in 2018, the Department of Justice said.

“I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the Fourth of July,” Pitts said. “What would hit them at their core? Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the Fourth of July parade.”

He decided Voinovich Park, where fireworks are launched, would make a good target since it’s near the U.S. Coast Guard station, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Celebrezze Federal Building, according to the Department of Justice. Videos on his phone showed him pointing out other potential targets, including St. John’s Cathedral.

Pitts is also accused of planning an attack in Philadelphia.

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