US: Man arrested for plotting attack on July 4

Washington: A man has been arrested in the US and charged with supporting a foreign terrorist organisation, officials said.

The 48-year-old man, Demetrius Pitts, was taken into custody by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the central US city of Cleveland on Sunday, and appeared in court on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Pitts, who uses other names including Abdur Raheem Rahfeeq and Salahadeen Osama Waleed, has been plotting an attack on the city with someone he believed to be linked with al-Qaeda, but is actually an FBI agent, according to an affidavit.

The discussion involved a possible attack on July 4, the US Independence Day holiday, with a remote-control toy car equipped with a bomb or a full-size van laced with explosives.

Pitts appeared on FBI’s radar in 2015 after writing a message on Facebook saying “The USA will be destroyed.” He later repeatedly posted messages online calling for violence, FBI documents showed.

After he moved to Cleveland this May, an FBI agent claiming links to Al-Qaeda engaged with Pitts in discussions of an attack, prompting Pitts to bring up the idea of a July 4 attack.

“I’m trying to figure this out. I’m trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the 4th of July,” Pitts told the FBI agent last month, according to the affidavit.

Pitts and the undercover agent had been scheduled to meet in person to discuss details of the attack, but was arrested before the meeting.

The FBI said it was unclear if Pitts was able to conduct any attacks without outside help.

US President Donald Trump commended the FBI for stopping the “would be attacker,” according to a White House statement on Monday.