An Ohio man pleaded guilty to planning a Fourth of July bombing in Cleveland.
Demetrius Pitts, 50, also pleaded guilty to threatening the life of U.S. President Donald Trump and the president’s immediate family.
Pitt, who is from Philadelphia, planned to park a van full of explosives in the downtown area and detonate it during the annual fireworks display. He also wanted to join al-Qaeda.
Pitt, who also went by the names Abdul Raheem Rafeeq and Salah ad-Deen Osama Waleed, became radicalized and began expressing anti-American sentiments in 2015.
He scouted downtown Cleveland on a reconnaissance mission before the attack, looking for a place to park his van for the Fourth of July bombing.
Pitt was on the FBI’s radar. He divulged his plans to an undercover FBI agent whom he believed was an al-Qaeda “brother.”
“What would hit them at their core?” Pitts told the agent, according to an affidavit. “Have a bomb blow up the Fourth of July parade.”
The FBI moved in shortly thereafter.
“Law enforcement cannot sit back and wait for Mr. Pitts to commit a violent attack,” said FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Stephen Anthony at the time. “We don’t have the luxury of hoping an individual decides not to harm someone or get others to act, especially when his continued, repeated intentions were to do exactly that.”
Pitt faces a likely sentence of 14 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled for February.