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FBI arrests 'radicalized' Philadelphia man in July 4 terror plot in Cleveland

By Ed Adamczyk and Danielle Haynes
FBI arrests 'radicalized' Philadelphia man in July 4 terror plot in Cleveland
The FBI announced the arrest of Demetrius Pitts on Monday, accused of planning a terrorist attack on a July 4 parade in Cleveland. Photo courtesy of FBI

July 2 (UPI) -- The FBI on Monday announced the arrest of a "radicalized" Philadelphia man who was plotting to bomb a July Fourth parade in Cleveland.

The man was identified as Demetrius Pitts -- aka Abdur Raheem Rafeeq and Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed -- of Maple Heights, Ohio. He was charged with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically al-Qaida, FBI special agent Steve Anthony said at a news conference Monday.

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Anthony identified Pitts as a Philadelphia-born U.S. citizen "radicalized in the United States" who expressed an interest, first in Facebook posts and later to an undercover agent, in disrupting a July Fourth parade in Cleveland with bombings that included an explosives-laden vehicle. Pitts has a lengthy criminal record, Anthony added, and a "radical ideology and desire to commit violence against the United States."

In meeting with undercover agents, Pitts displayed a "hatred of the [U.S.] military," and an "allegiance to al-Qaida," Anthony said. Pitts also visited several downtown Cleveland locations in recent days to scout bombing locations.

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"I'm trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the Fourth of July," Pitts allegedly told an undercover agent. "What would hit them at their core? Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the Fourth of July parade."

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An affidavit said Pitts also expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans and meet with an al-Qaida member.

U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman said that if convicted, Pitts could face {link:20 years in prison. He added that Pitts told undercover agents, "I don't care. I have no regrets."

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"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," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.

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