The FBI has stopped a planned terror attack involving an Independence Day parade and the children of military families.
According to Cleveland.com, a local man was arrested under suspicion of helping al Qaeda plot a 4th of July attack in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Authorities say that 48-year-old Demetrius N. Pitts hoped Americans and servicemembers would be killed because he wanted to "strike at the values at the very core of our nation.”
An FBI informant communicated with Pitts and learned many details of the plot, CNN reported.
The FBI said Pitts said he wanted to “have a bomb to blow up at the 4th of July parade." He hoped to use a van packed with explosives. They said he specifically wanted to blow up a park where people would be watching a fireworks show.
Authorities say the plan was intended to do even more damage than that. A disgusting side plot they say Pitts suggested involved giving small, remote-controlled cars with bombs inside as gifts to the children of military personnel.
His idea allegedly was to have the kids take the cars home and accidentally detonate the hidden explosives, killing the children and everyone around them.
The FBI indicated that Pitts felt he wouldn’t be fully responsible for the attacks because he was simply scouting things out for al Qaeda to see where they could be set off bombs at the parade. Evidence that agents say they gathered from Pitts included surveillance photos and videos of the downtown area.
"The only thing I'm gonna be responsible for is going to look at the spot, to scope out the scenery," Pitts reportedly said.
Targets that Pitts allegedly scoped out included a Coast Guard station, a federal office, the Rock Hall of Fame, and St. John Cathedral in addition to Voinovich Park. The traditional parade route passes by four of those locations.
The FBI said he was also planning to help out with an attack later in his hometown of Philadelphia. According to Philly.com, authorities say eyed the city hall and a federal building for an attack via a truck loaded with explosives. According to a court document, he was planning the attack for Labor Day.
Pitts, a Philadelphia native, was arrested on Sunday. He had his first court appearance on Monday and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. See the press conference below for more details: