Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4

Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4
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An Ohio man pleaded guilty Tuesday to crimes related to his plot to launch a terrorist attack on a July 4 event in Cleveland last year.

Demetrius Nathaniel Pitts, 50, pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, placing threats against the president of the United States and threats against the president's family members, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Authorities had been monitoring Pitts since 2017 after he expressed a desire to recruit people to kill Americans and said he wanted to meet with an al Qaeda “brother.” He was ultimately introduced to an undercover FBI agent who Pitts believed was a member of the terrorist organization. 

“I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the 4th of July,” Pitts said, according to an affidavit of the case. “What would hit them at their core? Blow up in the, have a bomb blow up in the 4th of July parade.” 

Pitts later conducted reconnaissance in downtown Cleveland, taking pictures of areas he was considering as targets.

A review of a phone Pitts gave the FBI official included two videos in which he pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and four videos of him pointing out potential targets such as the federal building, the Coast Guard station and St. John’s Cathedral, which he said could be taken “off the map.” 

“And I’m gonna be downtown when — when the thing go off. I’m gonna be somewhere cuz I wanna see it go off,” Pitts, who intended to use a truck bomb similar to that used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, told the undercover agent.

Pitts also pleaded guilty to threatening to kill President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem MORE and his immediate family members, namely Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpIvanka Trump: Whistleblower identity 'not particularly relevant' The Hill's Morning Report - What Bevin's apparent loss in Kentucky means Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4 MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerHaley: Top Trump aides tried to get me to undermine him Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4 Progressives press Democrats to rethink Israel policy MORE. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 11 and is likely to be given 14 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release. 

He was first arrested in July 2018 just days before Independence Day. He has previous criminal convictions dating back to 1989, including a jail stint for a 1993 robbery.