Cleveland, Ohio – An innocent man is now facing terrorism charges after he was caught plotting a bombing at a Fourth of July celebration and then arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The only problem is that the plot was created by undercover FBI agents, who convinced the man to agree to a role in the plan, and then provided him with supplies.
Demetrius Pitts, 48, is now facing criminal charges after conversations with undercover agents led to his arrest. According to the criminal complaint against Pitts, the FBI claimed that its agents reached out to him because he made comments on Facebook that indicated he may be interested in joining al-Qaeda, traveling overseas for training, and then returning to the U.S. to carry out an attack.
While it is not clear what the comments from Pitts—who was reportedly using a Facebook account with a different name—stated exactly, it is clear that there was no indication he actually planned on carrying out a terrorist attack. In fact, a report from NBC News admitted that “there's no indication that Pitts could have carried off any attack on his own.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony justified the contact by insisting that instead of waiting to see if Pitts ever joined al-Qaeda and traveled overseas for training, agents were completely justified in reaching out to Pitt and trying to convince him to carry out an attack now.
"Law enforcement cannot stand by and wait for Mr. Pitts to make a violent attack," Anthony said.
Pitts agreed to meet an undercover agent in person, and the criminal complaint claimed that the agent secretly recorded their conversations, which revolved around wanting to assassinate President Trump, and planning a terrorist attack in Cleveland. "I'm trying to figure out something that would shake them up on the Fourth of July," Pitts told the agent.
However, the complaint raises questions about how much Pitts even wanted to be involved with the planned attack, because he simply wanted to “go look at the base of the ground” where it would take place, and he wanted the other “brothers” who the FBI agent claimed were involved, to fulfil all of the other parts of the plan.
"I don't wanna meet all the Brothers," Pitts said in one conversation.
"Now what about the detonator guy?" the agent asked.
"Now I don't even wanna meet him," Pitts replied. "He has nothing to do with me… The only thing I'm going to be responsible for is going to look at the spot, to scope out the scenery.”
In order to carry out his role, Pitts needed a bus pass to take him downtown and a cellphone to take photos of the places that would be bombing targets—both of which were supplied by the FBI.
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Given the fact that he did not provide any of the supplies needed for the attack, he did not want to be the one who carried out the attack, and he simply promised to provide a basic layout of downtown Cleveland, proves that Demetrius Pitts was clearly not the ticking time bomb the FBI claimed he was.
The report claimed that Pitts was sentenced to prison for a robbery in 1989, and he pleaded guilty to theft in 2007. His latest run-in with the law occurred in 2016 when the state of Pennsylvania requested that Pitts be extradited on assault, robbery and theft charges.
Pitts has now been charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization because he agreed to use a cellphone and a bus pass provided by the FBI to take photos of downtown Cleveland.
Diane Stoudemire, Pitts’ aunt, told USA Today that she was shocked by the news and that Pitts has “never been a violent person.”
"He had had some problems with drugs and everything,” Stoudemire said. “He came up without his father, which is my brother, that was killed before Demetrius was born. His mother passed away while Demetrius was in penitentiary, so he's been having such a hard time.”
This is not the first the FBI has used its undercover agents to befriend a man online who looks like he may be critical of the U.S. government and sympathetic to terrorist groups in the Middle East, and has convinced him to carry out an attack on U.S. soil—so that the FBI can then heroically arrest the suspect, even if he refused to carry out the attack.
In December, the FBI was credited with stopping a man from carrying out an ISIS-inspired attack after their undercover agents attempted to coerce him into it, but when he refused to carry out the attack, he was still painted as a “terrorist,” and he now faces up to 20 years in prison.
Then in March, a similar incident happened when an FBI informant targeted a mentally ill man who agreed online, to carry out an attack and was arrested as soon as he claimed he would accept supplies from the FBI.
While the FBI appears to have intentionally sought out the men its agents befriended in all three cases, the agency chose to ignore several reports about a suspect who was actually planning an attack.
The FBI received multiple credible reports that Nikolas Cruz was planning to commit mass murder in the months before the Parkland shooting. Less than six weeks before the shooting, someone the FBI described as “a person close to” Cruz reached out to the agency and desperately pleaded for their help. The person reported Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.”
Yet the FBI apparently chose to focus on fictitious cases and did nothing to interfere with Cruz’s rampage.