CLEVELAND (AP) — An Ohio man who thought he was working with members of the al-Qaida terror group to plot a July 4 attack in downtown Cleveland was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in prison in federal prison.
Demetrius Pitts, 50, of the Cleveland suburb of Maple Heights, pleaded guilty in November to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group and for making threats against President Donald Trump and his family.
Authorities said that between 2015 and 2017, Pitts tried to recruit people to kill Americans. He began meeting with an undercover FBI agent posing as an al-Qaida operative in late June 2018 to discuss plans for a bombing during Fourth of July fireworks, according to an FBI affidavit.
Pitts recorded cellphone videos of potential targets, such as a federal building and a U.S. Coast Guard station, and then gave the phone to the undercover agent believing the videos would be given to al-Qaida members, the affidavit said. He was arrested July 1, 2018.
Pitts also discussed traveling to Philadelphia, his hometown, to plan a truck bombing similar to the 1995 attack in Oklahoma City, authorities said.
Pitts told U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver on Tuesday he should not have made the statements and denied being a terrorist, cleveland.com reported.