FBI nabs man it says planned July 4 attacks on Cleveland, Philadelphia

The FBI says it has foiled a planned July 4th attack in Cleveland.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington, DC. The FBI announced the arrest of a professed supporter of Al-Qaeda who planned a bomb attack on a US Independence Day parade in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington, DC. The FBI announced the arrest of a professed supporter of Al-Qaeda who planned a bomb attack on a US Independence Day parade in Cleveland, Ohio.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced on Monday (July 2) the arrest of a professed supporter of Al-Qaeda who was planning to target members of the US military and their families with a bomb attack on a July 4 parade in Cleveland, Ohio.

The FBI said Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, who also used the name Abdur Raheem Rafeeq, told an undercover agent that he wanted to load up a vehicle with explosives and blow it up during the US national day celebrations on Wednesday (July 4).

"His desire: To kill military personnel and their families," said FBI special agent Steve Anthony.

FBI and Justice Department officials said Pitts, a US native with "an extensive criminal history" was arrested on Sunday (July 1) after discussing how to carry out the attack with the undercover agent.

They had been watching him for months after he made statements in support of Al-Qaeda and expressed "violent intentions" against groups including the US armed forces, Mr Anthony said.

The posts called for Muslims to train in hand-to-hand combat and in the use of arms and explosives, Mr Anthony said.

"His Facebook posts, quite frankly, were disturbing," he said.

They said he was focused on the possible locations of an attack and that it was not clear whether he had the ability himself to acquire or build bombs.

Officials also said it was not clear if Pitts had a network inside the US or abroad.

Pitts was charged with attempting to provide support to a designated foreign terrorist organisation.