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Suspected Al Qaeda Terrorist Wanted to Bomb Church and Other Sites July 4th


Federal authorities continue to uncover details about an Ohio man's alleged plans to launch terrorist attacks during Fourth of July celebrations.

The FBI announced Monday they had arrested Demetrius Pitts, also known as Abdur Raheem Rafiq, 48, of Maple Heights, Ohio, for allegedly plotting an attack in Cleveland on July 4 for al-Qaeda.

The suspect's aunt said she was "thrown for a loop" on the news of her nephew's arrest.

"He's never been a violent person, so that's what I don't understand," said Diane Stoudemire, Pitts' aunt, in front of her home near Cincinnati.

"He had had some problems with drugs and everything. He came up without his father, which is my brother, that was killed before Demetrius was born," she said. "His mother passed away while Demetrius was in the penitentiary, so he's been having such a hard time." 

But she added, she hadn't seen or heard from Pitts in at least two years.

A 30-plus page complaint detailed how Pitts wanted to carry out the attacks.

The feds say he not only wanted to have bombs explode at Cleveland's 4th of July celebrations but also at a church, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other beloved Cleveland landmarks.

"He looks for a place to park the van that would be part with explosives he talked about taking Saint John Cathedral off the map and just yesterday giving remote cars with explosives to children of our military members," explained FBI Special Agent Stephen Anthony.

Pitts allegedly also wanted to hit several locations around the city of Philadelphia. The affidavit said a map with "multiple landmark targets were found.

Agents say Pitts thought he was meeting with another Al Qaeda sympathizer but it was really an uncover FBI agent.

Pitts remains in jail and is awaiting trial.

According to the FBI, the operation to arrest Pitts took more than two years.

Law enforcement across the nation are taking extra precautions to prevent future attacks.

"I want to remind everyone that the 4th of July celebration is a family event. Be smart if you see something say something," said Boston Mayor Martin Walsh.

NYPD commissioner James P. O'Neil said, "There's no specific credible threat to this Fourth of July celebration. That said, we understand it is a symbolic American holiday which is something we always consider in deployment so we will have an enhanced security package."

Authorities say the best advice is: If you see something, say something. Your tip could prevent an attack. 

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