American-born citizen Demetrius Pitts has recently been charged with attempting to support terrorism in the United States.
On Monday, federal authorities stated that Demetrius Pitts,48, had expressed support for al-Qaeda for more than a year, conspiring to set off explosions during a July 4 parade and later in his hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Demetrius Pitts, living most recently in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, was due in federal court on Monday. There were no court documents listing an attorney for him, and he couldn’t be reached for comment from news agencies.
Pitts was arrested on Sunday after meeting an undercover FBI agent, and was charged with attempted support of a terrorist organization.
“We don’t have the luxury of hoping an individual decides not to harm someone or get others to act,” FBI agent Stephen Anthony stated regarding the situation.
Anthony said that Pitts had been radicalized in the United States; he had no information that Pitts had traveled out of the country.
The federal authorities first began watching Pitts in 2017, when he lived in the Cincinnati metropolitan area, after he made Facebook posts threatening violence against the country, Anthony reported to news agencies. Pitts moved to Cleveland in May.
Pitts began meeting with an undercover FBI agent and discussed several ways to carry out an attack, according to court documents. Pitts also talked about his hatred for the military, Anthony said.
An undercover agent in late June gave Pitts a bus pass and a cellphone that he thought were from al-Qaeda so that he could go downtown and look for locations to carry out his attacks, according to a complaint filed by authorities.
Pitts shot videos of potential targets including federally-owned properties, returning the footage over the phone last week, believing they would be given to al-Qaeda’s members, the document informed.
In recent weeks, Pitts also talked about traveling to Philadelphia, and on Sunday he told the undercover agent he wanted to conduct reconnaissance for an attack using a truck packed with explosives, similar to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, authorities said in the complaint.
Pitts told the agent that Philadelphia would be the “big target” and that the attack “will be done” on Labor Day, according to an affidavit. Pitts also pointed to possible targets, including Philadelphia’s City Hall and a federal building, according to the court document.
In the District of Columbia, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that “President Trump commends the work of the DOJ and the FBI in helping stop this would-be attacker.”